Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Kris' Caramel Fall Snack Mix

 My adult Sunday School class needs treats...actually they expect treats every time I teach.  I guess it's my fault.  I started bringing cookies and cupcakes and other fun treats to give my class a bit of a sugar rush so that they would stay awake and have energy to join our discussions.  We are studying the New Testament and sometimes the topics are heavy duty, so I help keep my class alert with a blood sugar jolt.  Actually works.  And, the adults are always so happy to get snacks and treats which seem to be more common with the younger crowd.
This week we talked about the Apostle Paul's writings in Ephesians when he instructs the people to put on the Whole Armor of God and to carry the Sword of Truth, or the Word of God, which protects against Satan's firey darts...we learned good ways to "Crunch Satan."   To get everyone geared up, I passed out bags of "Crunch" which helped keep our discussion lively and thoughtful.

The next issue is:  Everyone wants the recipe, so here it is...and it is for a crowd, but can be easily cut down to fit a family size.

Kris' Caramel Fall Snack Mix: (Crowd size recipe)

NOTE:  All ingredients can be found at Sam's Club for one stop shopping.  Probably available at Costco, but I've not checked.

First I popped lots of fresh popcorn.  Good to do this either in the microwave, with a hot-air popper, or in a pot with a little oil on the stove...just keep it moving so as not to burn.  The "bags" of pre-seasoned microwave popcorn will not work well.  Keep popping until you have 8-10 quarts.

Then I shook the popcorn, which was in very large bowls, so that any unpopped kernels fell to the bottom of the bowl.  I carefully scooped out the popped corn and discarded the unpopped kernels.

I mixed in a bag each of Cheerios, Corn Chex, Rice Chex, and Wheat Chex ( All the Chex comes together in one box at Sam's Club.)  Other cereals could be used depending on your tastes such as Life Cereal, Crunchy Oatmeal Squares, etc.

Then I added a large can of salted peanuts, also from Sam's Club.  There are a few varieties to choose from; your choice can be any that you like.

The Popcorn-Cereal-Nut mixture is the portion that will be caramel coated.  Popcorn should be the larger portion of this mixture (at least 2 to 1).  After mixing, you may need to pop more corn to get a good balance.

Next, make the caramel coating:  (Plan to make 2 batches caramel, may be  necessary to coat all the popcorn mixture depending on your add-ins.)
3 cups packed brown sugar
2 1/4 cups light corn syrup
3/4   cups  (1 1/2 sticks) butter, room temperature

In a large, heavy saucepan, combine the brown sugar, corn syrup and butter.   Make sure your pan is large enough to boil the ingredients...and they will foam up especially when baking soda is added at the finish.   Bring to a rolling boil and boil for 6 minutes, stirring occasionally. 

 2 Tablespoons vanilla Extract
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda

Have the above 2 items measured in advance and ready for immediate use.

Remove the caramel mixture from the heat;  stir in vanilla (which may spit at you as it sizzles in the hot caramel)  and baking soda until mixture is light and foamy...about 10 seconds or until incorporated.    Yield: enough caramel to cover about 20 quarts with a thin coating of caramel.  Note:  A thick caramel coating is tasty, but will be more difficult to dry in the oven for a crunchy caramel snack.

Immediately pour finished caramel over popcorn mixture; toss to coat. Bake on baking sheets either greased or lined with silpat mats or parchment paper, uncovered, at 250° for 1 hour, stirring every 15 minutes.  Then, remove from oven and cool completely.

Next, add your choice of the following:  ( I added all these except for the goldfish.)
2 bags Fall candy corn mix (with candy pumpkins, etc)
Bag of tiny twist pretzels  (Sam's club has large containers of Christmas pretzels that work well) (Salty goes well with caramel)
2 large (party size) Bags Reese's Pieces or Fall colored M&M's  (Reese's Pieces also from Sam's Club)
Pepperidge Farms chocolate goldfish are fun, but I used chocolate "cat" cookies from Trader Joe's.

A great family snack size, or the large bowl in the photo, would be about 1/3 this recipe size.

One could just make the caramel corn and then add in anything that is personally enjoyed.  I have found, however, that chocolate candies do not work well as this is an eat-with-hands or portable snack and in AZ, the chocolate melts.

Place in sealed containers; keeps well for 2 weeks.


1 comment:

  1. How fun! That's a really great mix you've got there.