Recipe courtesy of Susan Feniger
Episode: Hauntingly Good
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Total:
2 hr 10 min
Prep:
30 min
Cook:
1 hr 40 min
Yield:
18 cups
Level:
Intermediate

Ingredients

  • Olive oil spray
  • 1 1/2 cups shredded unsweetened coconut
  • 3 tablespoons canola oil
  • 3/4 cup popcorn kernels
  • 2 cups Candied Peanuts, recipe follows
  • 2 cups packed dark brown sugar
  • 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter
  • 1/2 cup light corn syrup
  • 3 tablespoons chopped fresh curry leaf, optional
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon cumin seeds
  • 1 teaspoon black mustard seeds
  • 1 teaspoon ground turmeric
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground mace or nutmeg, optional
  • 1/2 teaspoon paprika
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper, optional
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
Candied Peanuts: 
  • 2 cups unsalted peanuts
  • 2 tablespoons well-shaken canned coconut milk
  • 2 tablespoons packed dark brown sugar
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh kaffir lime leaf (about 10 leaves)
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon reshampatti chile powder or cayenne pepper, optional

Directions

Preheat the oven to 250 degrees F. Liberally spray an extra-large mixing bowl (not plastic) with olive oil spray. 

Spread the coconut on a baking sheet and toast it in the oven, stirring it once or twice, until it is golden, about 8 minutes. Set aside to cool, leaving the oven on.

Put the oil in a large heavy-bottomed pot, add the corn kernels and set over medium-high heat. Cover and shake the pot occasionally until the popping begins, about 5 minutes. Once the popping starts, shake the pot continuously until the popping slows down dramatically, 3 to 5 minutes. Remove the pot from the heat, but continue shaking it until the popping stops entirely. Dump the popcorn into the prepared mixing bowl, trying not to let any unpopped kernels fall into the bowl. Add the toasted coconut and the Candied Peanuts. 

Before beginning the caramel process, spray a rubber spatula, a wooden spoon and 2 cookie sheets liberally with olive oil spray. 

In a medium saucepan, combine the brown sugar, butter and corn syrup. Heat over medium-high heat, stirring occasionally with the oil-sprayed spatula, until the butter is melted. Continue cooking, stirring constantly and being careful not to splatter the hot caramel, until the mixture thickens and a candy thermometer registers 255 degrees F, about 7 minutes. (If you do not have a candy thermometer, you will know it is ready when the bubbles of the mixture get noticeably larger and slower.) Remove from the heat. Add the curry leaf if using, salt, baking soda, cumin seeds, black mustard seeds, turmeric, mace if using, paprika, cayenne if using and cinnamon. Stir quickly to incorporate, and then immediately pour the caramel over the popcorn mixture. Stir with the wooden spoon until all of the popcorn is well coated. 

Pour the mixture out onto the oiled cookie sheets and spread it out evenly. Bake for 1 hour, stirring it every 20 minutes to keep it from burning. Remove the cookie sheets from the oven and let the popcorn cool to room temperature. The popcorn will crisp as it cools. 

When it is cool, you can serve the popcorn immediately or package it in airtight bags for storage. It will keep well for 4 days.

Candied Peanuts: 

In a small mixing bowl, combine the peanuts, coconut milk, brown sugar, kaffir lime leaf, salt and reshampatti. Put the mixture in a nonstick saute pan and cook over high heat without stirring until the nuts have started to brown and toast, about 2 minutes. Then stir, and continue to cook, stirring occasionally, until the peanuts have browned, about 5 minutes. (The nuts will brown evenly and the pan may smoke slightly from the coconut milk, but this is all okay if you are stirring continuously.) 

Transfer the mixture to a plate and set aside to cool. The nuts will still be somewhat moist at this point but will crisp as they cool. 

Once the nuts are cool, break them up. Store in an airtight container at room temperature. 

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