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Coconut Curry Caramel Corn Recipe

December 24, 2012

It wasn’t until I was almost in high school that I came to the conclusion that my up-bringing might not be all that similar to my friends. I didn’t realize that it wasn’t common to grow your own food, sew your clothing, raise your own meat, or to make and bake everything at home. My Mom is an amazing women, who also happens to be an awesome cook, and I am so fortunate that she took the time to teach me, my siblings, her co-workers children and some of our friends how to cook (along with many other home ec skills) through a 4-H Club she lead out of our house. Each year in December my Mom would take a few extra days off of work as a RN at the local hospital to start baking Christmas gifts to share with our family and friends. It might be an understatement to say I was like a child in a candy shop, because the candy shop was our kitchen. I can still to this day remember smelling all of the wonderful smells of tens of different types of cookies, divinity, chocolate covered pretzels, Buck-Eyes (chocolate covered peanut butter balls), truffles, ginger bread, and my absolute favorite caramel corn. After growing up with my Mom’s caramel corn it’s hard to find another that I still like and crave as much as her original recipe. Her caramel corn thickly coated each kernel of air popped popcorn perfectly. It was slightly cruncy and chewy at the same time…. it. was. perfect. If you put too much in your mouth your teeth would be glued together by caramelly goodness. Over the years I’ve taken over a scaled back version of my Mom’s holiday tradition but the one thing I’ve never stopped making is her Caramel Corn. It’s still the best I’ve ever eaten but then again I might be biased due to family love.
I’ve spent the last 6 months working in the Marketing department at Harry and David I’ve had the opportunity to taste all of our variations of Moose Munch gourmet caramel popcorn…. Now I fear that my traditional holiday go-to-gift of caramel corn just won’t do. My caramel corn is amazing and delictible, but my co-workers are all used to the gourmet versions coated in chocolate. One of our vendors sent us a container of Chipotle Caramel + Almond Popcorn and after eating about half of the container and loving every bite I knew that I needed to step my caramel corn up a notch and try something different. Something unexpected. Like taking one of my favorite Thai dishes, Coconut Curry, and blending it with my favorite holiday snack… MMMMM. Now that would be something different. Something remarkable… and something you wouldn’t find in our breakroom!
Everyone who tried it like it. Our Director of Marketing liked it so much that during the break he demolished the bag I left near my desk. Wohoo! Mission Accomplished. The main comment was “It’s like lunch or dinner… but not. It’s good, just not what I expected.”
Coconut Curry Caramel Popcorn Recipe

Coconut Curry Caramel Popcorn Recipe

Cookware & Supplies:

  • 2-3 quart sauce pan
  • Wooden spoon
  • Candy thermometer
  • Large roasting pan or a baking sheet

Optional Cookware:

Ingredients:

  • 2 cup light brown sugar (packed)
  • 1/2 cup light corn syrup
  • 3/4 cup Coconut Butter
  • 1/4 tsp cream of tarter
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 1/2 TBLSPN Madras Curry Powder
  • OPTIONAL: 1 tsp Lilys Chilies Mild Chili Powder, do this only if you want some zing to the Curry flavor. I did… it was awesome!
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 6 quarts of popped corn (unbuttered, unsalted)
  • 1 cup Flaked Coconut

Instructions:

  1. Pop your popcorn! Make sure you check the popped corn for old maids and remove them from the roasting pan.
  2. In saucepan, combine brown sugar, corn syrup, coconut butter, cream of tartar, and salt.
  3. Boil rapidly on medium to medium high heat, stirring constantly with a wooden spoon.
  4. Once the sauce reaches apx 200 degrees stir in the Madras Curry Powder (and the spicy chili powder if you’re wanting it with a kick.)
  5. Pre-heat over to 200 degrees
  6. Continue stirring until the caramel sauce reaches 260 degrees, hard ball stage. I found that the coconut butter didn’t blend in with the caramel sauce as quickly as butter does. It remained separated in the pan. Don’t panic. Keep on stirring. I found that as the temperature increase above 225 degrees that it started to look an awful lot more like normal caramel sauce.
  7. Remove saucepan from heat.
  8. Stir in baking soda, stirring to mix thoroughly. The caramel sauce with turn a lighter color and will begin to increase in volume.
  9. Immediately pour caramel sauce over the pooped popcorn in the large roasting pan, stirring the corn with a wooden spoon until it is well coated. Add the flaked dry coconut to the popcorn mixture and stir it in.
  10. Bake caramel corn for one hour in the preheated 200 degree oven, stirring the popcorn between 2 – 4 times to ensure that all of the corn is completely coated and breaking apart large chunks that might caramelize together.
  11. Take out of oven and let cool on a baking sheet. Continue to stir and break the caramel apart into individual coated kernels.
  12. Place the coconut curry caramel corn in an air tight container. I use Gallon sized Ziplock bags.
  13. If the caramel corn becomes sticky, place it back in the oven at 200 degrees for a few minutes.

Cooking Tips and Advice:

  • If you’re not a coconut fan but you like curry, go back to the original Caramel Corn recipe and substitute the 3/4 cups of Coconut Oil with 1 cup of Butter and then don’t add the coconut flakes to the caramel coated popcorn at the end of the recipe.
  • I cut back on the amount of Coconut Butter used in the recipe. When I made the recipe with the full cup of Coconut Butter I found that it was much oilier than my traditional caramel corn. It left oil all over my fingers and in the ziplock bag, so I cut it back to keep it similar to my normal caramel corn.
  • Don’t have a candy thermometer and don’t want to buy one? Then use the method that I grew up using to determine Soft Ball Stage and Hard Ball Stage. Place a cup of cold water near your saucepan and occasionally pull the wooden spoon out of the sauce and drop a little bit of the mixture into the cold water. If the sauce forms a soft ball at the bottom of the water glass it’s roughly at 235 degrees, and is known as Soft Ball Stage. The caramel sauce will heat up from Soft Ball stage to Hard Ball stage fairly quickly, so continue stirring diligently and every couple of minutes test the sauce to determine if it has passed to Hard Ball Stage. The characteristics of Hard Ball Stage are: A little of this syrup dropped into cold water will form a hard ball. If you take the ball out of the water, it won’t flatten. The ball will be hard, but you can still change its shape by squashing it. If the ball or rope cracks when you attempt to change it’s shape turn the heat off immediately and remove the saucepan from the heat. You’ve gone into the Soft Crack Stage… Don’t panic. This is fine, it just means that your caramel corn will be less chewy and bit harder. You’ll also want to watch it carefully when you bake it during the final step to make sure it doesn’t burn.
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