I haven't warned Grace of an impending bedtime tonight. I have not packed her lunch or snack for tomorrow. No clothes are in a tidy heap ready to be thrown on in the morning. Her alarm clock is not set, neither is mine. I can feel it, this calm before the storm. Lots of energy in the air, a buzz that hopefully will drawn in the clouds. Tomorrow BETTER be a snow day, or there will be some very sore feelings out there, and some very sad/mad kids. C'mon, snow, mama's counting on it. : )
When Grace was three, Snowmageddon hit (y'all remember that one?). Thinking it would be fun and that the snow wasn't that big of deal, I plopped Grace in the toboggan and headed down on foot to Nana and Papa's house. About halfway there I realized it wasn't such a great idea. The snow was so deep and icy it caved into the sled at every heave-ho pull I gave. I huffed and puffed and sweated my way down there, and exhausted, knocked on the door. My mother in law opened the door and behind her came this waft of sugary goodness. I stuck my head in the door.
"Whatcha makin?" I ask.
" Caramel corn. Want some?"
"Ummm.... YES!, please!"
It was one of those sweet memories I have, dropping in unannounced to my in-laws house, deep snow outside, small Gracie, yummy snacks and visiting in front of the fireplace in their warm and cozy home. That moment started a tradition that we have followed since, that when it snows, we make caramel corn. Actually, chocolate covered caramel corn. I thought I'd pass along the recipe in case you all found yourselves sledded out tomorrow and in need of a snack. We made ours on Sunday, and for some weird reason have a little left over for tomorrow. You can half the recipe it if you like, to only make one 9x13 pans worth. Oh, and it goes really well with Hot Cocoa too!
Nana's Baked Caramel Corn
1 Cup unsalted butter
2 Cups firmly packed brown sugar
1/2 Cup Corn Syrup ( I use light, but dark can be used, too)
1 tsp coarse salt
1/2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp. vanilla
6 Quarts of popped corn (I use my air popper)
1 1/2 Cups semi-sweet chocolate chips (optional)
Preheat oven to 250 degrees and lightly butter two glass 9x13 pans.
In a tall, heavy bottomed saucepan melt the butter over medium heat. Stir in the brown sugar,corn
syrup,and salt. Raise the heat a little and bring it to a boil, stirring constantly. Here's where it gets tricky. The recipe says to then boil for 5 minutes without stirring, but I always panic at the end and think I am going to scortch the heck out of it, so I stir it like a bad girl. If you think it is going to burn, take it off the heat and
make a decision on whether you want to be bad with me, or not. In any case, what you want is a deep, smooth, caramel color. When you get it, remove it from the heat, and stir in the baking soda and vanilla. Don't be alarmed, it will fizz and bubble a bit. Maybe it's angry we stirred it, I don't know.
Put the popped popcorn into a BIG bowl ( I don't have one, so I divide it into two bowls) and pour the caramel over it. Stir immediately to cover as much popcorn as you can. Divide it up between the two prepared 9x13 pans and bake in a 250 degree oven for one whole hour, stirring every 15 minutes. This is important as the heat warms up the caramel just enough to glaze over the popcorn, and when you stir it, it coats more of it. Then, remove it from the oven and cool completely. I turn it out onto a big piece of waxed paper for step #2.
When it is completely cool, melt about a cup and a half of chocolate chips down. Pour the melted chocolate into a Ziploc bag, and carefully snip off a very small piece of one of the corners of the bag. Hold the bag over your popcorn, squeeze it, and drizzle all over your caramel corn. Oh,yum. You can eat it now, but wait until the chocolate has hardened up completely before breaking it up to store. Now you are the coolest parent on the block. Sledding, hot chocolate, and caramel corn?!
Mom, Dad, you're the best!