Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Tuesday's Twist: Peanut Butter-Nutmeg Caramel Corn

Tuesday's Twist:  A basic recipe with a fun twist.  In other words, just another excuse for me to play around with weird recipes I've been dying to try.

Pairing peanut butter and nutmeg may not be your first instinct, but you'll be pleasantly surprised with this cozy combination.  You know that extra flavor peanut butter gets when it's all warm and melty?  Nutmeg seems to capture and enhance that extra toasty warm peanut flavor. In return, the nuttiness of the peanut butter mellows and softens the spice of the nutmeg.  Pairing nutmeg with peanut butter highlights the nuttiness while drawing out the warm, delicate side of this often overused spice. 

I first fell in love with this intriguing duo after making the topping from this recipe.  It makes the most amazing apple crisp topping, so addicting.  As the peanut butter mingles with the nutmeg it can't help but draw out all the goodness and orchard-fresh flavor tucked inside baked, juicy apple slices.  

The lemon brightens the peanut and nutmeg flavors, adding just the right touch of richness to make the nutty flavors pop.  This peanut butter and lemon trick is also the secret to our favorite frosting.  I was a little hesitant to add it to caramel corn, but it worked beautifully.  Have I ever told you about the time I made peanut butter and jelly popcorn?  It sounded like a tasty combination, but when I added grape jelly to the peanut butter syrup, it turned a hideous army green color.  I was halfway expecting a disaster but just had to try a little lemon juice here.  Thankfully, lemon juice cuts the sweetness, enhances our star flavors and leaves our golden caramel color.

This subtly spiced peanut butter caramel corn is warm and cozy, a perfect snack on a chilly autumn evening.  Curl up in a soft blanket and sip a mug of hot apple cider while you munch away at this nutty, spice-kissed treat.  Just be careful, this new twist may soon become an old favorite. 

Peanut Butter-Nutmeg Caramel Corn
base recipe adapted from Cooking Light

15 cups popped popcorn
2/3 cup packed brown sugar
2/3 cup corn syrup
2 Tbsp butter
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 cup peanut butter
1/2 tsp vanilla
1/2 tsp lemon juice 
3/4 tsp nutmeg

*Preheat oven to 250 degrees F.  Spray a large baking sheet with non-stick spray; set aside.  Place popcorn in a large heat-proof bowl; set aside. 
* In a 2-qt saucepan combine brown sugar, corn syrup, butter and salt. Bring to a rapid boil over medium to medium-high heat; boil 5 minutes, stirring frequently.  Remove from heat and stir in peanut butter, vanilla, lemon juice and nutmeg.
* Pour over popcorn, tossing and stirring until evenly coated. Spread onto prepared baking sheet and bake for 1 hour, stirring every 15 minutes. Let cool completely before breaking into pieces. Store in an airtight container or resealable plastic bag. 

Food for Thought: "A mature person is one who does not think only in absolutes, who is able to be objective even when deeply stirred emotionally, who has learned that there is both good and bad in all people and in all things, and who walks humbly and deals charitably with the circumstances of life, knowing that in this world no one is all knowing and therefore all of us need both love and charity." -Eleanor Roosevelt

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