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A traditional snack with a unique twist

January 18, 2012

When I want to be alone, which is often considering I am an only child with an independent streak as obvious as a forehead tattoo and my work requires me to be in constant contact with hundreds of others, one of my favorite activities, especially during this dreary season, is to curl up, eat unhealthy food and watch movies I’ve seen a billion times.
Although I have what I think of as fairly refined musical taste, my film preferences are iffy at best and a mockery at worst. While I appreciate cerebral, character-driven Oscar winners such as “The King’s Speech” and “The Descendants” and can totally understand the value of a good documentary, when couch/junk food mode kicks in, all I want to watch are cheesy romantic comedies, sci-fi fantasy movies and most embarrassingly, blockbuster action movies.
The blissfully unrealistic “You’ve Got Mail” and the 1995 remake of “Sabrina” top my list of chick flicks. I am so unrestrained in my love for the “The Lord of the Rings” and “Star Wars” trilogies that I can’t watch them in anything less than their entireties, and the adrenaline rush I derive from watching such epic action sequences as the car-carrier on the bridge sequence of “Bad Boys II” routinely results in me giving Michael Bay a standing ovation.
Sadly, my worthless cinematic choices usually influence what I eat while I’m watching said movies. As the flicks do nothing for my intellectual growth or enrichment, my snacks do nothing for my health. Just like my favorite movies are mixture of genres, my ideal treat blends both sweet and salty.
This adventurous twist on caramel corn makes a ton, so it’s perfect for a crowd. or if you’re a loner like me, you can box up the rest and share it with your co-workers and friends when you’re finished indulging your appetite for guilty pleasures and solitude.

Crunchy Caramel Candy Corn

16 cups popped popcorn (1/2 c. unpopped)
1 c. brown sugar
1/4 c. corn syrup
1/2 c. butter
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. vanilla
15 fun sized candy bars (I use Twix, Milky Way and 1000 Grands)
1 c.white chocolate chips
1/2 c. semi-sweet chocolate chips
1 tsp. shortening
 
Pop popcorn as directed. Into a medium sized glass bowl or large glass measuring cup, place butter, brown sugar and corn syrup. Heat in microwave 1 minute. Stir the ingredients together with a wooden spoon. Repeat this step four more times until very bubbly and hot. 
Add the baking soda, vanilla and a dash of salt. Pour the popcorn into a large brown paper grocery sack. Pour the caramel right into the bag on top of the popcorn. Stir it around with a wooden spoon. 
Fold the bag over and place it in the microwave, heat for 1 minute. Take the bag out of the microwave and shake very well. Return bag to microwave and heat for an additional 30 second, then shake it again. Pour the caramel corn out onto a large jelly roll pan lined with parchment paper. 
Chop candy bars and lay them out over the caramel corn. Heat the white chocolate chips in the microwave for 30 seconds at a time, stirring after each heating interval.
Don’t let chocolate get too hot. Add 1/2 tsp. shortening to the melted chocolate and stir to combine. 
Drizzle the white chocolate over the top of the caramel corn and candy bars. Melt the semi-sweet chocolate just like you melted the white chocolate. Drizzle over the caramel corn.
Let the chocolate set up (Pop it into the fridge for 10 minutes to hurry along the process). Break into chunks and serve.
Store any leftovers in an airtight container.

Kate Salter is a lecturer at Mississippi State University. Email her at kbsalter@gmail.com.

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