Caramel and cheddar popcorn

February 21, 2013, 1:58 pm alexandra meyer Yahoo7

Need some fancy looking snacks for the Oscars without spending too much? Try this cheap and simple caramel and cheddar popcorn mix.

Caramel and cheddar popcorn

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Salty and sweet make the perfect combo.

It used to be so much easier to pretend. It comes with the territory when you’re a kid but I remember having an extremely vivid imagination. Whether it was making up storylines for our Barbies at my friend’s houses or playing pirates on my next-door neighbour’s tree house, I could easily get lost in another world.

But my favourite time to pretend was at my grandma’s house. My dad’s parents lived about ten minutes from us growing up so we went over to their house pretty regularly. I grew up with two brothers so any time I got to enjoy being extremely girly I loved it. My grandma had an old tea set that she would bring out whenever I came over. As soon as we got to the house I made a beeline for the living room and would set up the table with all these cute little teacups and a teapot filled with cold water. Sometimes she would let me have some biscuits or lollies to put on the table as well. Then I would set up my stuffed animals around the table in their own seat, run down the hall and raid my grandmother’s jewelry drawer. There are pictures of me wearing about 5 necklaces, clip on earrings and my grandmother’s old party dresses from when she was a teenager. I would sit down with my bears and serve them their tea and biscuits and enjoy the peace and relaxation while my brothers looked for worms or tried to invent a new game on the rusty old trampoline.

It was so easy to believe I was a princess or a movie star when I put on all my grandma’s jewelry and sat down for tea.

Nowadays it gets harder to pretend, whether it is because it feels safer somehow to just accept reality or because that crazy imagination does lessen as you get older. Maybe it’s really just because we don’t take the time for it anymore.

I still do it occasionally; the Bartender and I pretend to be fancy by getting a semi-expensive bottle of champagne or getting really dressed up whenever we go out for a nice dinner or even when we have a cheeky glass of wine and a homemade charcuterie plate on a Tuesday afternoon. When you close your eyes and picture yourself somewhere else or as someone else your imagination does rush in again. Though sometimes you need a little bit of a hand. Just like the tea set and jewelry was my aid in becoming a princess, I decided to make a faux fancy snack to eat while watching the Oscars. So as I watch all these glamorous actresses flip their perfectly styled hair with their thousand dollar manicures and million dollar necklaces, I can pretend that I am not just a struggling waitress/writer and that I can be just as fancy, rich and eccentric as them, at least just for a few hours.

Whether or not you serve this popcorn for the Oscars it is a great party snack, it cost me all of $12 and served about 8 people.

Cheddar and Caramel Popcorn
Makes 36 cups

Caramel corn:
22 cups popped popcorn
1 cup lightly salted peanuts
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
2 cups light brown sugar
½ cup light corn syrup
1 tsp salt
1 tbsp thickened cream
½ tsp baking soda
1 tsp vanilla extract

Cheddar popcorn:
16 cups popped popcorn
2 seasoning packets from 2 packages of instant macaroni and cheese
½ cup of butter

1. Preheat oven to 160°C.
2. Pour popcorn and peanuts into a very large bowl.
3. Melt butter in a saucepan over medium-high heat.
4. Stir in the sugar, corn syrup and salt until fully incorporated.
5. Bring mixture to a boil, frequently stirring. Be careful not to over stir though and to stop stirring as soon as it starts to bubble.
6. Once mixture has come to a boil stop stirring and continue to boil for about 5 minutes.
7. Remove saucepan from heat and carefully stir in baking soda (the mixture will vigorously boil).
8. Stir in the cream and vanilla and pour the caramel sauce over the popcorn. Fold together until mostly combined.
9. Evenly spread the caramel popcorn onto two parchment lined baking sheets, in a single layer.
10. Bake for about half an hour, removing the mixture from the oven halfway through to stir.
11. Allow caramel corn to cool and then toss together with the cheddar popcorn until fully combined.

Last week's post: Pork gyoza and shrimp shu mai

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