October 27, 2015

Caramel Popcorn Balls

It looks innocent, but those kernels will mess you up man
The Halloween times are upon us again. Which means it's time to misappropriate a harvest festival as an excuse to drink and party! And that also means drunk people will be angrily trying to defend their costume choice. Or the assertion that their costume is a costume at all. And finally, that means it's time for the annual fear-a-palooza that news stations run each year about people putting crap in candy to harm trick or treaters. Which has almost never happened in history. But that doesn't stop us from freaking the hell out and watching the news, which lets them sell more advertising! But don't worry about fictional poisoned candy this year, because this year you're going to be that super creepy guy in the neighborhood giving out creepy homemade treats. Why? Because they're awesome.


9 Cups of popped Popcorn
1.5 Cups Brown Sugar
1 Cup Water
1/2 Cup Standard-Issue Sugar
1 Cup Light Corn Syrup (No, this isn't the same as high-fructose corn syrup, and yes, you should actually use it. Unless you like grainy caramel and sadness.)
2 and 1/4 tsp of White Vinegar
3/4 tsp Salt
1/2 Cup of Butter
More butter
All of the butter

The first thing you're gonna need to do is take your popcorn, and dump it into a large pot or bowl. Wasn't that easy? Don't get used to it. Now combine your Brown Sugar, Regular Sugar, Corn Syrup, Water, Vinegar, and Salt in a sauce pan and get ready to not leave the kitchen for a while. Crank the heat up to around a medium-high, and, without stirring, move the pan around to combine the ingredients. And bring it to a boil. Oh, it's boiling? Good, now you get to freak out. Because it really really looks like you should be stirring it. But too much, or in some cases any stirring, will lead to crystallization, which leads to crappy foodstuffs, which leads to a life of depression and alcohol abuse, which leads to mixed dancing. So freak out, and maybe stir or maybe don't, but always feel guilty about it. For how long? Until your fledgling caramel reaches the "Hard Ball" stage. What the crap does that mean? It means that your mixture is between 250 and 265 degrees. Which is super useful if you have a candy/frying thermometer like me, and actually remember to use it....unlike me. For those of us without the financial or mental capacity to make our lives easier, we're gonna rely on the more archaic method. Drop a little bit of your mixture into some cold water. If it's at the "Hard Ball" stage, it'll form thick threads of sugary goodness, which you can pick up and form into a ball that maintains its shape when you set it down. Also, Keanu Reeves will be there for some reason.

Orr'Vill the Terrible, accepting tribute from his subjects
Once your caramel is playing hardball, turn the heat down to low, and add in your Butter. Stir it until it's fully incorporated, and then stir it a couple more times to make up for all of the pent up stirring you didn't get to express earlier on. Turn off the heat, and pour the goop on to the popcorn. Try not to spill any on yourself. Seriously. What's worse than burning yourself? Burning yourself with something sticky, that stays stuck to you and keeps burning you because it loves the way you taste, but wants you a little more well done. Once you've finished treating your burns and weeping softly in the corner, stir the caramel and the popcorn together and then let it cool for 5-10 minutes. Take some Butter, and lube up a cookie sheet, plate, or some other containment vessel. Also butter up your hands. Because this stuff is sticky. Form the popcorn goop into balls, and place it on your plate/cookie sheet/whatever. Re-butter your hands as necessary. And there you have it! Homemade treats that will creep out your neighbors, until they taste it, at which point they'll beg you for more. Assuming it hasn't pulled out all of their teeth. Maybe even then.

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