Thursday, December 22, 2011

Christmas Goodies- Caramel Corn & Snickerdoodles

This week I made goodies for Dave to take to work, and his coworkers are requesting the recipes! One of the things in the bag was a pretzel wreath, which is posted below. The others were caramel corn and snickerdoodle cookies. The caramel corn was based off a recipe I found at, and the cookies were from my Baking Illustrated cook book.

Caramel Corn
Printable version here

7 quarts plain popcorn (made from about 1 cup kernels)
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter
1/2 cup light corn syrup
2 cups (14 oz.) light brown sugar
1 tsp. kosher salt (or 1/2 tsp. table salt)
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1 1/2 tsp. vanilla extract

1. Pop popcorn using your preferred method (here is mine). Place the popcorn in a large roasting pan (or two other large baking pans) and keep warm in a 225º oven.

2. Next, to make the caramel, melt the butter in a 3-quart saucepan set over medium heat. Once the butter is melted, mix in the corn syrup, brown sugar and salt. Increase the heat to medium-high and bring the mixture to a boil. Set a timer for 5 minutes, and keep the butter mixture at a boil, reducing the heat if necessary.

3. Remove the mixture from heat and stir in the baking soda and vanilla extract (this will make the mixture bubble up a little, so keep your hands away). Remove popcorn from the oven, and pour the caramel sauce over it, tossing to coat. Bake for 45 minutes to 1 hour (I did an hour), stirring every 15 minutes. The popcorn is done when it is completely crispy when you take a bite.

4. Line the countertop with waxed paper (I used one sheet of waxed paper, plus my pastry mat). Dump the corn out onto the paper and separate the pieces. Allow to cool completely, then store in airtight containers and/or resealable bags. Can be made several days in advance.

Printable version here

2 1/4 cups (11 1/4 oz.) all-purpose flour
2 tsp. cream of tartar
1 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
12 tbsp. (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened but still cool
1/4 cup vegetable shortening
1 1/2 cups (10 1/2 oz.) granulated sugar, plus 3 tbsp. for rolling dough
2 large eggs
1 tbsp. ground cinnamon for rolling dough

1. Preheat oven to 400º and line 2 large baking sheets with parchment paper or spray them with nonstick cooking spray. (I also lined one with plain foil, and it worked fine.)

2. Whisk the flour, cream of tartar, baking soda and salt together in a medium bowl; set aside.

3. With a mixer, cream the butter, shortening, and 1 1/2 cups sugar at medium speed until combined, 1 to 1 1/2 minutes. Scrape down the sides of the bowl with a rubber spatula. Add the eggs and beat until combined, about 30 seconds.

4. Add the dry ingredients and beat at low speed until just combined, about 20 seconds.

5. Mix 3 tbsp. sugar and 1 tbsp. cinnamon in a shallow bowl. Scoop the dough into balls, about 1 rounded tablespoon in size (I used a small cookie scoop) and round with your hands. Then roll each ball in the cinnamon/sugar mixture and place it on the baking sheet, spacing them about 2 inches apart. (Note- I found it easiest to roll a sheet or two full of the plain dough balls, then roll them all in cinnamon one at a time. That way my hands weren't getting quite so messy. Also, be sure to not place them too close on the baking sheet or they will run into each other, trust me! My medium baking sheet normally makes 12 cookies, and I could do 7 of these, and my large one that normally bakes 15 could do 9. I found out that chilling the dough beforehand makes them spread less, but either way is fine.)

6. Bake until the edges of the cookies are beginning to set and the centers are soft and puffy, 9 to 11 minutes (I do 9 1/2 minutes). Let the cookies cool on the baking sheets 2-3 minutes before transferring them to a wire rack. Cool completely, then store in an airtight container. Yield: about 4 dozen cookies.

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