Salted caramel popcorn

Salted caramel popcorn

Do you have movie nights in your house? We used to until the kids came along. Sleepless nights and all the other kid-things that needed our time and energy meant that 90 minutes of action or romantic dialogue was just too long. 30 minutes was perfect, 60 was achievable when I had managed an afternoon nap. We spent the last 4 years wondering if Leonard and Penny would make it (The Big Bang Theory), what the relation is between Red and Liz (The Blacklist) and if Mike Ross was ever going to get caught (Suits). However lately, I’ve noticed we aren’t as tired as we used to be. Maybe we are ready to go back watching movies.

With movies come movie snacks. And since we never really plan these things, we usually only have 1 thing in the house: corn. I store it in a cute jar and label it with the words: Corn for Popping. Yes, microwave popcorn is quicker, but homemade is cheaper and better and it only takes a couple of minutes longer to make. Plain popcorn is good, flavoured is better but popcorn with salted caramel is the best!

A spoonful of salted caramel sauce

The recipe for the sauce is part of this scrumptious cake by Linda Lomelino. I just love her photo’s, don’t you? For perfect homemade popcorn I turned to this beautiful blog and it does give you a perfect batch every time.

What’s your favourite movie snack? Or your favourite movie for that matter? 

 

Salted caramel popcorn

Ingredients for the popcorn:

corn for popping

3 tbsp of coconut oil

ingredients for the sauce:

115g sugar

75ml cream, heated (not boiled)

50g cold butter, cubed

1/4 tsp fleur de sel or coarse sea salt

Method:

1. In a pot with a lid, heat up the coconut oil on a medium heat.

2. Add 3 corn kernels and wait until they pop.

3. Once they have popped, add the rest of the kernels and make sure they form one, even layer at the bottom of the pot. Close the lid and remove the pot from the heat. Count to 30.

4. Put the pot back onto the heat and let the corn pop. You shouldn’t have to shake the pot but if you do feel like you need to move the corn around, move the pot back and forth so the kernels move on the service of the pot and don’t get thrown around.

5. When the popping die down and stops, take the pot off the heat and pour the popcorn into a bowl.

6. Pour the sugar in a saucepan and melt it over a medium heat. Then let it turn golden. If using a thermometer, it should read 170-175 degrees C.

7. Add the butter and stir so the butter melts and is fully incorporated. Be careful as the caramel will bubbel and splatter a bit.

8. Now add the cream and stir. Then add the salt and stir. The sauce should be smooth and creamy.

9. While still hot, pour it into a clean, heatproof, glass jar and let the sauce cool down at room temperature. You can now store it for about a week.

10. Preheat the oven to 150 degrees C and line a baking tray with baking paper.

11. Pour 100ml of salted caramel sauce onto the popcorn and use a wooden spoon to mix it all together. All popcorn pieces should be coated in the sauce.

12. Spread the popcorn in a single layer on the baking tray and place in the oven for 15 minutes.

13. Let the popcorn cool and eat straight away.

ENJOY!!

Adding salted caramel sauce to popcorn

Halloween

When I was 8 my parents packed all of our stuff into a container and we moved half way around the world to Hong Kong. It was the 80’s and we were living in Belgium. Hong Kong was a country. Or was it? Back then it was still a British colony. Everyone around us had to take the atlas off the bookshelf and look up exactly where this small bit of land was.

When we finally arrived we were in a totally different world. I remember the smell of the traffic. I remember being amazed at the bamboo scaffolding. I remember the red taxis and the double decker busses. The Starferry that sailed between Kowloon and Hong Kong Island with its first class upstairs and second-class downstairs. I remember the Lion Rock Tunnel which meant we were almost home in the New Territories. In a world were multimedia was non existent, everything was new.

I went to a British school and by the time my first Halloween came around my English was fluent enough that I understood the concept. The theory was simple: dress up, do something scary, get sweets. My friends took me trick-or-treating and we felt very proud of the scary stories and jokes we had memorised in order to get treats.  Do kids still do that these days?

Later, I went to an American school and my Halloween memories then started to include Jack-o-lanterns, caramel apples and popcorn balls. In 1994 we moved back to Belgium and Halloween sort of disappeared out of my life. No one had heard of it. No one was interested in this “American” tradition. But then someone decided it would the ideal theme for a student party. And over the years, Halloween filtered down from young adults to teenagers to kids and toddlers.

Last year my kids’ kindergarten wasn’t having any of the Halloween madness. But this year they have embraced it. And what really impressed me was that my 4 year old knows the story behind Halloween. Her 20-something educator explained what it’s all about and why there are lanterns made from pumpkins. Even more impressive is that we live in Berlin and Halloween is not even part of the German heritage.

This week , I have no new recipe for you. Instead, I want to share with you the things I will be making for my kids’ Friday evening pre-Halloween treat feast (I think we’ll skip dinner tonight :-)).

– I made these Rice Krispie treats for my daughter’s Kita Halloween party. I made individual treats using a bat cookie cutter and covered them in milk chocolate.

– I unexpectedly found sugar eye decorations in the baking section of our small supermarket. I’m going to stick them onto some crackers and make these cute little spider treats.

– Popcorn has recently become a new favourite in our house and today it will be covered in caramel sauce according to Linda Lomelino’s recipe featured in this month’s German version of Flow Magazine.  Linda Lomelino has one of the most beautiful blogs I’ve come across. Just look at those pictures! Her crunchy caramel popcorn is part of her recipe for Chocolate Cake with Caramel Buttercream and Crunchy Caramel Popcorn.

– And when my little monsters are asleep tonight (P. is on evening shifts) I plan to tuck into some of this with the left over caramel sauce.

Are you celebrating Halloween? Is there a sweet or treat you make every year?

 

 

Vegan chocolate shortbread with salted caramel and nuts

 

vegan chocolate shortbread with salted caramel close-up

About 20 years ago my two younger brothers decided to become vegetarians. They were teenagers. And my mother took them seriously. She never said it was a phase, something that would pass, a teenage rebellion thing. No, she attended vegetarian cooking courses so that she could be sure that her boys were getting all the vitamins, minerals etc. they needed to grown strong and healthy. Ready-made veggie burgers rarely entered our house. My mother took it all in her stride and educated herself on what vegetarianism was all about. She also proved that it wasn’t that hard to cook vegetarian meals on a daily basis. The hard thing is to change your mindset. If before, you were a meat-potato-veg person, stepping away from that can sometimes require a bit of creativity and effort.

white fresia on grey background

My brothers made the step to a meat free life in the 90’s and they tell me things have really moved on since then. More and more people are aware and more and more shops and restaurants recognise the growing number of people choosing this way of life. Living in Berlin I have really been exposed to the possibilities of eating vegetarian. More recently, I have found myself curious at the concept of a vegan lifestyle. I don’t plan to become 100% vegetarian or vegan, but I realised that our little family does eat this way more often than not for different reasons.

vegan chocolate shortbread with salted caramel side shot with palm leaf

This shortbread with salted caramel is my first attempt at creating a vegan baking recipe. I had to do quite a bit of research which I really enjoyed. Anything for a challenge! The recipe is by no means perfect but I think it is a good first attempt. Let me know what you think about it.

vegan chocolate shortbread with salted caramel side shot

Vegan chocolate shortbread with salted caramel and nuts

Ingredients for the shortbread:

100g room temperature coconut oil

50g sugar

150g flour

3 tbsp raw cacao

5 tbsp almond milk

Ingredients for the salted caramel with nuts:

220g sugar

60ml water

120ml coconut cream

1/2 tsp fleur de sel

50g unsalted peanuts, chopped

Method:

1. Line a 20×26 tin with baking paper. You could also use a round tin with 21cm diameter.

2. Preheat the oven to 180 degrees C.

3. Using a hand mixer, cream the coconut oil and sugar for a couple of minutes.

4. Add the flour, cacao and almond milk and mix with a wooden spoon. You can also use your hands.

5. Press the dough into the tin and bake for 20 minutes.

6. Allow to cool in the tin.

Make the caramel:

1. In a clean saucepan, add water then sugar. Put the pan on medium heat and leave it. Don’t be temped to stir or swirl the mixture.

2. Let the mixture boil until it goes a dark golden colour. I let my caramel heat up to 195 degrees C on a digital kitchen thermometer. Be careful not to burn the caramel.

CARAMEL GETS EXTREMELY HOT, DONT TOUCH IT!

3. Take the caramel off the heat and carefully add the coconut cream. The mixture will splatter so be careful not to get burned. Mix the coconut cream into the caramel with a wooden spoon.

4. Carefully pour the caramel onto the shortbread.

5. Sprinkle the chopped peanuts and the fleur de sel onto te caramel.

6. Let the caramel cool and set. You can put it in the fridge if you want to speed up the process.

7. Cut into pieces and store in a cool place so the caramel doesn’t melt. I find it keeps well, covered in the fridge.

ENJOY!

vegan shortbread with salted caramel side view

palm leaf