One of the telltale signs of the holiday season is the sudden abundance of cranberries in the grocer’s aisle. Like many crops, fall is harvest time for cranberries. Stirred from their sleepy marshy growing grounds when they reach their peak in color and flavor, cranberries are harvested from September thru November. Not surprisingly, the ensuing fall and winter holidays are filled with recipes using this bright and bold fruit.
So let’s mix up some fun, and celebrate this seasonal treat by pairing it with another recent field graduate—popcorn. Popcorn and cranberries are more than just eye candy for a Christmas tree. Mixed together they pack a nutritional punch as a trail mix, offering whole-grain fiber and energy producing carbohydrates (popcorn) and antioxidants (cranberries) while remaining naturally low in fat and calories.
But it’s the holiday season, so a little decadence is in order. This recipe for Cranberry-Orange Caramel Corn is an addictive sweet treat you’ll love having around, making any occasion festive.
For more popcorn recipes, visit www.popcorn.org
Cranberry-Orange Caramel Corn
Yield: 10 cups
10 cups popped popcorn1 cup dried cranberries1/2 cup whole almonds1/2 cup (1 stick) butter1/2 packed brown sugar1/4 cup corn syrup2 tablespoons frozen orange juice concentrate, undiluted1 teaspoon orange or vanilla extract1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1. Preheat oven to 300 degrees Fahrenheit. Place popcorn, cranberries and almonds in a large bowl; set aside.2. In a medium saucepan heat butter, brown sugar, corn syrup and orange juice concentrate over medium heat until butter is melted. Bring to a boil and boil 2 minutes. Remove from heat. Stir in extract and baking soda (mixture will foam).3. Pour syrup mixture over popcorn mixture in bowl; stir to coat well. Spread evenly in a large, rimmed baking sheet or roasting pan, lined with foil and sprayed with nonstick spray. Bake 30 minutes, stirring twice during baking time. Stir caramel corn as it cools on baking sheet. Store in an airtight container.
Go kid friendly; let them help in the kitchen with these festive and flavorful popcorn balls…
Cranberry Popcorn Balls
Yield: 18 balls
2 cups sugar1 cup whole berry cranberry sauce, slightly mashed1 tablespoon grated orange peel1/2 cup cranberry juice1/2 cup light corn syrup1 teaspoon vinegar1/2 teaspoon salt5 quarts unsalted popped popcorn
1. Combine all ingredients, except popcorn, in a heavy saucepan.2. Bring to a boil; lower heat and cook to 250 degrees Fahrenheit on a candy thermometer.3. Mixture will bubble up in pan, so watch to keep from boiling over.4. Pour slowly onto hot popcorn and mix until well-coated.5. Let stand 5 minutes or until mixture can easily be formed into balls.6. Butter hands and form into 3-inch balls.
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