This October 31st, take your party to the next level and make your get-together a “Haute Halloween!” I have some tips, decor ideas and a recipe that can make your celebration classy without breaking the bank.
The “trick” to a real “treat” this Halloween is preparing something from scratch. Venture beyond the candy bowl and prepare homemade caramel corn to share with your guests. With a few tips, it is easy to make and your kitchen will be filled with the sweet aroma of fall flavors.
This “Pumpkin Spice Caramel Corn” takes the classic treat to new heights. Sweet caramel corn is tossed with walnuts and pumpkin seeds then sprinkled with a dash of pumpkin pie spice. Just be forewarned, this caramel corn is highly addictive!
The only other piece of equipment you will need for this recipe is a candy thermometer. The butter and sugars need to caramelize up to a temperature called “soft crack,” easily identified on most candy thermometers. This process can take time, because you want to make sure it is always on low heat to prevent scorching. One of the many things I love about my KitchenAid® 5-Burner Freestanding Double-Oven Range is how it allows me to easily control the flame on the burner.
Since you will already have popcorn on hand, why not turn it into some simple and cost-savvy centerpieces! I love to use multi-colored kernels as a base for a candle arrangement. All you have to do is spread popcorn kernels in a shallow dish or serving platter. Arrange votives or tea lights throughout the plate, using different colors and heights to add visual interest. This is an easy way to create Haute Halloween mood lighting on a budget.
Another idea uses popped corn! Decorate your space with canning jars filled with fluffy, white popcorn and stalks of harvest wheat. Adorn with a bow and you have another creative decoration made with household items.
This recipe also makes for a great take-away treat at the end of the night!
Pumpkin Spice Caramel Corn
12 cups popped plain popcorn
1/2 lb (2 Sticks) unsalted butter
2 cups packed light brown sugar
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup light corn syrup
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups walnut halves
1 1/2 cups raw shelled pumpkin seeds (pepitas)
1 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
Place popcorn in a large shallow roasting pan in one layer, or use two 9-by-13-inch pans; set aside.
Melt the butter in a large heavy saucepan over low heat. Stir in the brown sugar, salt, and corn syrup. Bring to a boil, stirring constantly. Insert a candy thermometer into pan, without the tip touching the bottom of pan. Boil mixture slowly, without stirring, until the temperature reaches the soft crack stage, about 285 degrees. This could take at least 45 minutes, but watch thermometer temperature carefully. Meanwhile, pre-heat oven to 250 degrees.
When the temperature of the mixture is reached, immediately remove from heat and stir in the soda and vanilla. This will cause the mixture to briefly foam up.
Stir the mixture and then immediately pour evenly over the popped corn in the roasting pan. Using 2 wooden spoons, quickly mix to coat all the popcorn; spread evenly on pan.
Bake at 250 degrees for 15 minutes; stir well. Return to oven for another 15 minutes.
Remove pan from oven and stir in walnuts and pumpkin seeds and sprinkle with pumpkin pie spice, coating well. Bake for 30 minutes more, stirring every 10 minutes.
Turn caramel corn out onto non-stick foil or parchment-lined baking sheets in a single layer. Cool completely, then break apart into desired sized pieces. Keep stored in airtight containers.
*The Contributor of this post has been compensated by KitchenAid for this post, but this post represents the Contributor’s own opinion.*