October is National Caramel Month

By Chris Burchell, Executive Chef, MediLodge of Monroecarm app

Hi again everyone! Well, the school season has opened up and with it comes football, post season baseball, and the onset of autumn. This is an exciting time of the year, when many people are starting new phases of their lives; perhaps gearing up for the holidays are beginning. One thing is for certain for many people, and that is that it is the harvest season. Many different locally grown items are available at peak ripeness and in abundance. One of these items is the apple, and one of the greatest compliments to the apple is caramel.

October is National Caramel Month, and this would seem totally appropriate given its symbiotic relationship with the apple. I mean, who has never craved a caramel apple from the fair? Caramel is a beige to dark-brown confectionery product made by heating any of a variety of sugars. The process of caramelization consists of heating sugar slowly to around 340 °F. As the sugar heats, the molecules break down and re-form into compounds with a characteristic color and flavor. Caramel is often eaten as little brown, sweet, buttery nuggets wrapped in cellophane, but it is also delicious in candy bars and on top of fresh popcorn.

carm sauceThe best caramels are sweet and just a bit chewy. Caramels can, in fact, have a variety of textures. Caramel manufacturers use the term “short” to characterize a caramel that is too soft (perhaps too moist) or “long” for a caramel that is quite chewy. Caramels are, in some ways, rather similar to other candies in that the basis for candy is generally sugar, corn syrup, and water. However, caramels vary in an important way in that they also contain milk and fat.

What makes a caramel a caramel? The action of the heat on the milk solids, in conjunction with the sugar ingredients, imparts a typical caramel flavor to these sweets. Essentially, the entire batch of candy undergoes a chemical reaction referred to by chemists as the Maillard reaction. One thing I do know is that caramel is GOOD!!

Now, on to our recipe!

 

Caramel Popcorncarm pop

Ingredients:

• 8 oz. of lightly packed brown sugar

• 4 oz. of butter

• 4 oz. of corn syrup

• 1/2 tsp vanilla

• 1/2 tsp baking soda

• 32 oz. popped popcorn (1 microwave bag should do; no butter no salt)

Procedure:

1. Preheat your oven to 250 F

2. Remove all the un-popped kernels.

3. Bring the brown sugar, butter and light corn syrup to a boil in a large pot over medium heat, stirring constantly with the wooden spoon.

4. Continue stirring constantly as you turn off the heat.

5. Add the vanilla, then the baking soda. There will be a slight chemical reaction and your caramel will start to foam and rise as you keep stirring.

6. Add the popcorn and stir until all the popcorn is coated. Don’t worry if the stirring becomes difficult.

7. Press the popcorn mixture as best you can on a greased baking tray. You will likely not be able to cover the face of the tray.

8. Bake the popcorn for 30 minutes, pressing down on your popcorn to further flatten it every 10 minutes.

Remove from oven and allow to cool thoroughly. Once cool and hard, break into bite-sized pieces and enjoy.

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For more information on The MediLodge Group, visit our website, find us on Facebook or tune in to our YouTube Channel.

MediLodge of Monroe

MediLodge of Monroe

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