As I'm sure you might have guessed, they have apple and pumpkin picking and lots of fall family activities, but they also have a pretty killer farm store/bakery that you are sure to love. You may have seen the "Throwdown Episode" that Bobby Flay filmed there, challenging their famous Brown Bag Apple Pie. Their pie, topped with a shortbread crust and a hefty dose of homemade caramel, was the natural winner- you just can't beat those awesome flavors and textures.
We, of course, had to pick up a pie or two, as well as fresh cider, pumpkins, and a big jug of rainbow popcorn kernels. The colors of the popcorn were just so cheerful and I love making popcorn on my stovetop. The microwave baggies are such a pale imitation of a big pot of freshly popped corn! Usually, we eat it plain- no extra butter or salt because it is just so good on its own. The other day, though, I decided to try my hand at homemade caramel corn.
The task seemed simple enough- but it took me going through a few recipes to get it just right. I found that the traditional way was the best way- popping the corn, making the caramel, and then combining the two. Letting the caramel corn dry out in the low heat of an oven helped to keep it crispy. Once I got all the kinks worked out, it was so yummy that we offered little cellophane bags of it as a Thursday "Story Hour" special today at the restaurant.
1/4 cup vegetable oil
Generous 2/3 cup popcorn kernels
1 stick butter
1 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup light corn syrup
1/2 teaspoon coarse or flaky sea salt
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
-Preheat oven to 200 degrees and prepare a sheet pan with parchment paper or a silpat.
-Place the oil and 4 kernels of the popcorn in a deep pot.
-Heat over medium heat until at least two kernels pop. Once they pop, the oil will be hot!
-Add the remainder of popcorn kernels, give them a stir, and cover pot. The kernels will begin to pop.
-Shake pot intermittently until popping slows down.
-Take the cover off the pot, give the popcorn a good stir, and spoon the kernels into a large, clean, paper grocery bag. Set aside. (Combining the popcorn and caramel in a bag makes the job way easier and less messy).
-In a heavy bottomed pot or dutch oven, combine butter, brown sugar, corn syrup, and salt.
-Heat over medium heat until butter is melted and sugar is dissolved.
-Once the mixture reaches a boil, do not stir! Allow it to boil for 5 minutes.
-Remove from heat and stir in baking soda completely. Mixture will foam slightly.
-Pour the caramel over the popcorn.
-Alternately stir/shake the popcorn until it is fully coated with the caramel. This is when the paper bag comes in really handy!
-Spread caramel corn over prepared sheet pan and bake at 200 degrees for 1 hour, stirring every 10-15 minutes to break up clusters and ensure even baking.
-Remove from oven and spread on another sheet or parchment to cool.
-Once fully cool, store in an airtight container.