Tuesday, December 20, 2011

For the Movies: Caramel Popcorn with Roasted Nuts

I see it.  The light at the end of the tunnel.  Just two days left of work then I'm home free.  I cannot tell you how much I'm looking forward to my holiday vacay.  The past few months have roared on by and I need me some down time.  Big time.  Not that I'm planning anything wild and crazy.  No tropical vacations or skiing holidays (I've only been downhill skiing once and nearly died, so I've vowed never to do that again.  Okay, I didn't nearly die, but when you are 13 and roaring down a bunny hill mountain and can't stop and end up crashing into a snow bank while your cute instructor stands by, it does feel like you are dying.)  Given my lack of coordination at any sporty, and fear of sharp things on my feet propelling me forward - you should see me skate - the only calorie burning activity I'll be up to is a long hike through the beautiful river valley here in Saskatoon.  But lookout!  I may strap on a snow shoe or two and really do it up.  Lord knows after eating this ridiculously delicious caramel popcorn, something will have to be done.

No, I'm not going too far at all over the holidays.  And I like it like that.  For so many years I'd pack up the car and the evil fur beasts cats (if you've ever traveled a great distance with 2 cats in a car, you know of which sweet hell I speak) and drive the 600km to come home for Christmas, then leave after a few days and make the long drive back to Edmonton.  It was what it was, but I'm so happy that these days I just have to go a few blocks to my Mom's house and everyone is there.  My brothers and sisters and all of the little ones running around with rosy cheeks and runny noses.  We eat until it's slightly uncomfortable, because everything is just so. good.  This year the main attraction will be Prime Rib with Yorkshire Pudding - because after cooking roughly 350 pounds of turkey in December, it's pretty much the last thing I want to eat right now.  So we are switching up the menu and I'm super stoked; if only because I'm already envisioning the gravy soaking into the Yorkshires.  Can't wait.


When I'm not hiking, or eating too much or colouring with the kiddies, I will be watching movies.  You know how much I love movies right? The is the prime season for all of the great ones.  Oscar contenders are being released weekly, and I'm super excited to plant my behind in a comfy seat and watch The Descendants, and Young Adult and The Iron Lady, and My Week With Marilyn.  How fabulous does Michelle Williams look as Marilyn?  Oh yes.  There will be movie watching.  On the small screen too, because what is Christmas without watching my boyfriend Colin Firth in Love Actually?  Or watching the March sisters in Little Women?  Or Mr. Bean stick his head up the turkey? All classics, which require curling up on the couch with a blankie and a hot beverage and a bowl of popcorn.  But just not any popcorn.  And now I get to the really good part.

For years and years my Mom would make this caramel popcorn.  Package it up in pretty tins for her kids, she did.  Hell, it was worth the car ride of wailing of cats, it was.  And then she stopped.  Not sure why.  We kind of don't talk about it in my family.  So this year I was like "Mom do you still have that recipe for that caramel popcorn you USED to make and we all loved and then stopped making it for some reason?"  And she said yes, I still have it.  Hooray!  This is the best popcorn to munch on while Colin Firth dives into the water to fetch his manuscript.  It's buttery, oh god, it is buttery and caramely and laden with roasted nuts.  But so. damn. good.

You think popping popcorn is fool proof, right?  But clearly not Renee proof.  I don't have a popcorn maker, so I just made it on the stove top.  But my favourite pot for doing so is without a lid because I threw it over the small fire back when there was that kitchen incident.  So I had to use this other crappy pot and burnt the popcorn.  So then I had to use a smaller pot, and make two batches of popcorn.  All in all it took much longer than it should have.  My dear friend Stacy says I need the STIR CRAZY by West Bend, which apparently makes the best popcorn in the world.  If Santa hasn't packed his sleigh yet, Renee would like very much.   Making the caramel goo is a bit of a science project, hence no photos of that because I was quite transfixed with all of the bubbling sugar action, and I've never been that great at science so this required all of my attention.  It's crazy, all of that bubbling, but I let it go for about 5 minutes, like Ma said, and it was fine.  Even dropped a little of the caramel in a glass of water to see if it formed a ball.  It did and it was done.  Adding the baking soda and booze in the end makes it go wild again, but don't be afraid.  Just carefully pour it over the roasted nuts and popcorn and stir stir stir.  Press it into a greased bake sheet, let it cool, then break it off into pieces to eat right away or package it up in airtight containers and freeze for later.  Just let it thaw for an hour before breaking it apart and munching.  Don't want any of you to lose a tooth over the holidays! Whether you are sneaking this contraband popcorn into the theatre like me (shhhhhh! don't tell!) or munching on it while you are all curled up with your favourite peeps and furry friends, this popcorn will make your movie watching all that more enjoyable.  Just go on a little hike afterwards okay?  Or if you dare, don the skates.  You just won't see me at a rink near you anytime soon.

Caramel Popcorn with Roasted Nuts

3 cups nuts (I used whole pecans and almonds)
2 cups of butter (I used salted)
18 cups popped popcorn
2 2/3 cups brown sugar, lightly packed
1 cup of Rogers Golden Syrup or corn syrup if you can't find Rogers
1 tsp cream of tartar
1 tsp baking soda
1 tbsp rum

Heat oven to 300*F.  Spread nuts on cookie sheet and roast for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally and keeping an eyeball on them.  Let them cool and mix with your popped corn in a VERY large bowl, or two not so large bowls.

Combine sugar, butter, syrup and cream of tartar in a sauce pan.  Cook until it forms a ball when dropped into a glass of water, or for about 5 minutes.  It's tricky, I know, but trust me, it will be okay.  Just stir, stir, stir.  Remove from heat, stir in the baking soda and rum.  Bubbles!  Then pour over the nuts and popcorn.  Stir really well, and divide it amongst two greased cookie sheets (I used butter, of course) and press it into the pans.  Let it cool, then tear it into pieces to devour immediately, or pack it into airtight containers.  If you want to freeze it, go ahead, just let it thaw for an hour before digging in.  Makes a rather large batch.


  1. Oh Lord. Just drooled all over the keyboard. Amazing looking popcorn - love those nuts! Sounds like you have a great holiday planned. Enjoy.

  2. I like the look of your recipe, but I'm dying to know why your mom stopped making it. (I like a mystery.)

  3. Thanks Ruth, I plan on enjoying every second of my holiday. NN, I think Mom just grew tired of making the popcorn every year so she just stopped. NO big drama or mystery I'm afraid, but we were disappointed that is for sure. She also didn't make her infamous egg rolls this year, which I'm really, really choked about because they were amazing. Mother is fickle! I'll have to get her recipe for those too.

  4. The popcorn is a fantastic idea, and you've reminded me I must watch Little Women very soon (my favorite!). Merry Christmas!

  5. I love the idea of popcorn and nuts...I can see myself munching at these treats...all cozy, under a throw, by the fireplace and watching a nice movie...
    Renee, Happy Holidays to you and your loved ones :-)

  6. I hope you're bringing caramel popcorn for snacks in the motorhome while we search southern Saskatchewan for bison and black footed ferrets......even if we see nothing else, I'm looking forward to your beautiful food.

  7. Cinda, since you requested, I will bring! This popcorn will provide us with much energy for ferret hunting. Can't wait to meet you and the others - looking forward to the adventure in Southern Sask! And how cool would it be to see a bison?

  8. Renee - I made this on the weekend to give as gifts and all I can say is OMG!! So good - love it. :)


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