I bet I am not the only blogger who has a love of both blank books and the computer. I am always making crazy plans to go paperless and then remembering that in theory, I adore paper. As a child and a teenager, I started dozens of journals. Most of them trailed off pretty quickly--you know how all those blank pages seduce and then terrify you. Most of the ones I managed to keep up feature huge time gaps, inevitably, inadequately bridged with a declaration that "so much has happened, I can't write it all." (This will come as no surprise to faithful followers of this start-and stop blog--hi, mom!) Usually I ignored these events too-monumental-to-record and plunged right into the new day's tedious details, leaving current-me to wonder what the drama had been. A crush? A series of missed deadlines? A big party? Who knows? It's awful. I can't do that to you, or to future-me. And so, an update.
So much has happened!
1. I had a baby. Pretty soon she will be one year old. She is a doll.
2. We moved from New York to San Francisco. The role croissants and morning buns from Tartine played in this decision is larger than I care to admit.
3. I figured out how to make candied popcorn.
I've been meaning to get back to blogging for more than half a year. What this means is that every time I made something really wonderful, I composed a post about it in my head, convinced that once the baby was asleep and the dishes were washed and I had taken a shower and finished whatever work I had to finish, I would sit down and bang out that post. But you can guess what usually happened once the baby was asleep. Dishes went unwashed, I went unshowered, work went undone, and I fell straight into bed with that blog post still clattering around in my head. I'd wake up the next morning and refine the post as I played with the baby and soldiered through the chores, but in the end it would dry up.
I can't remember, then, what I meant to say about this candied popcorn when I actually made it--in April, the night before I flew to San Francisco to find us an apartment (since experimenting with candied popcorn is a great thing to do the night before a stressful trip, especially if your suitcase is still empty)--but here's what I can say now. I haven't made it since because I can't trust myself alone with it. This version, which would be great with drinks, makes loose popcorn covered with a thin, crisp candy shell; for a thick, sweetly shattering brittle, use the same amount of candy but only 1.5 cups popped corn and try to stretch it a bit as it cools.
adapted from Tartine
1 tbsp olive or canola oil
1/2 cup unpopped popcorn
3/4 cup plus 2 tbsp sugar
1/4 cup water
1/3 cup corn syrup
3/4 tsp salt
1 tbsp unsalted butter
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/8 tsp cayenne pepper (optional)
1. Make popcorn. Put the oil in a large pot with 3 kernels popcorn; set heat to medium and cover. When all three kernels have popped, add the rest of the popcorn, replace the lid, and shake the pot vigorously. Continue to shake frequently until the popping has all but stopped. Spread the popcorn on a baking sheet lined with a silpat or lightly oiled foil.
2. Combine the sugar, water, corn syrup, and salt in a heavy, deep saucepan (I used 3 quart) over low heat. Stir with a wooden spoon until the sugar dissolves. Raise the heat to high, bring to a boil, and cook without stirring until the mixture hits 264F. This should take 5 to 8 minutes.
3. Remove from the heat and stir in the butter and vanilla. Then add the baking soda and cayenne (if using) and stir quickly but thoroughly, incorporating the powders evenly. Pour the candy all over the popcorn and then toss to distribute as evenly as possible. (By "toss" I mean "push it around with a silicone spatula or oiled/buttered wooden spoon.) Some pieces will have very little or no candy, but it will all balance out.
4. Cool before eating. Store in an airtight container.