20 April 2013

Caramel Corn Cookies

This has been the most bi-polar weather week I've ever experienced.  We've had temperatures in the high 70's, washed away by power outages due to thunder storms, snuggled up next to a freeze warning.  And as I look out the window with the pups by my ear (she likes to lie on the back of a couch like a cat....good thing she's small) we have glorious sunshine again.  I wish nature would pick a season and stick with it!  To go with this unusual weather, I decided to make an unusual cookie that I've been dying to try ever since I first read it in my Smitten Kitchen cookbook.  Popcorn cookies!  What a delightful concept!  

I've often sung the praises of Deb and her glorious tidbits on this here corner of the internet.  I love this woman's style.  Fun foods with every day ingredients that are both delicious and inspiring.  Her popcorn cookies are a perfect example.  When I first read them, I immediately though of how much fun it would be to tweak them into caramel corn cookies.  Call me crazy, but I really don't like regular popcorn.  I just find it bleh.  But kettle corn is a kernel of a whole other color.  I love this stuff.  It's the perfect combination of sweet and salty in a light, toasty crunch.  I love curling up on the couch with a giant bowl and a glass of dry champagne (a killer combo, b-t-dubs).  

These suckers are awesome.  When you fold the popcorn into the cookie dough, it breaks apart...just as you might expect a light, toasted and airy food to do.  And the effect is great.  You end up with three different consistencies.  Sometimes you get a bite that is soft with fluffy popcorn and delicious cookie dough.  Sometimes you get incredibly chewy, carmel-y bit.  And if you're lucky, you get both of them together in a bite reminiscent of caramel corn.  All this with lovely light crunch that only popcorn can provide.  

Look at that oozy, melty caramel.  Awesome.  Don't worry if a couple cookies meet up and become caramel friends, as seen above.  A spatula is all it takes to wrangle these little buddies back into shape.  They're awesome dunked in milk...but even better on the couch with champagne.  

Caramel Corn Cookies (about 20 cookies)
Barely adapted from the Smitten Kitchen Cookbook
  • 1 bag microwave popcorn (I used lightly buttered)
  • 1 stick unsalted butter, at room temp
  • 1/2 c brown sugar
  • 1/4 c white sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla
  • 1 1/4 c flour
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 22 caramel squares, chopped 
Pop your popcorn according to directions.  Open the bag and let cool while you make the cookies.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and line two baking sheets with parchment paper or a baking mat.  Using your stand mixer or hand mixer, cream together the butter, sugars, egg and vanilla.  Add the flour and baking soda and stir together well.  Dump the diced caramels and bag of popcorn (minus a few handfuls you've eaten, of course) into the dough and stir to combine until the popcorn is evenly distributed throughout the dough.  If it looks like too much popcorn, it's just right.

Pack the cookie batter into balls about two inches in diameter.  These cookies do not expand much during baking, just flatten, so the size you roll them to will be close to how they turn out.  Place about 2 inches apart on a baking sheet.  Bake for 10 minutes, until cookies are slightly golden on top and the caramel is melting.  Remove and let the cookies cool on the sheet for 5-7 minutes, until cool enough to touch by hand.  This allows the caramel to re-set so it doesn't drip out of the cookies (or burn your fingers!).  Remove with a spatula to a wire rack to cool completely.  Store in an air-tight container.  

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