GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) The biggest football event of the year happens on Sunday, February 1, and it’s a great chance to get everyone together. Food is a big part of football festivities, and Amy Sherman from Amy on the Trail has some great ideas on sweet treats made with homemade caramel.
Spicy-Sweet Caramel Corn with Peanuts
10 cups popped popcorn
3/4 cup sugar
2 tablespoons corn syrup
1/4 cup Blis Blast hot sauce
3 tablespoons butter
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
To pop the corn, place 1/4 cup unpopped corn in a brown paper bag, and fold over the top. Microwave the popcorn for about 1 minute 45 seconds, or just until it stops popping. Continue until you have about 10 cups.
Preheat oven to 300°. Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper. Lightly coat parchment, a large bowl and a rubber spatula with nonstick spray; add popcorn and peanuts to bowl. Set baking sheet aside.
Bring sugar, ¼ cup water, and 2 tablespoons corn syrup to a boil in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat, swirling to dissolve sugar. Boil, swirling pan occasionally, until caramel is a deep amber color, 10–12 minutes Remove from heat; stir in hot sauce and butter (mixture will bubble up like hot lava) Return to a boil and cook another minute. Remove from heat; stir in salt and baking soda. Working fast, yet carefully—caramel will be super hot- pour caramel mixture over popcorn and toss to coat.
Spread out popcorn on prepared baking sheet and bake, until dry, 15–20 minutes. Let cool. Keep the cracker jack in an airtight container until ready to serve.
Caramel Pretzel Blondies
For the blondie layer:
1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 sticks unsalted butter
2 cups packed brown sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
For the caramel layer:
3 cups roasted cashews, chopped
2 cups sugar
1/4 cup light corn syrup
1/4 cup heavy cream
1/4 cup Founder’s Porter beer
1 teaspoon salt
2 cups lightly crushed twist pretzels
Preheat oven to 350°F. Line baking pan with parchment paper, leaving a 1″ overhang on long sides of pan, spray the pan with pan spray. Whisk flour, baking powder, and salt in a medium bowl; set aside. Stir butter in a medium skillet over medium heat until browned bits form at bottom of pan, 7–8 minutes. Transfer to a bowl with an electric mixer. Add brown sugar. Beat until well combined and mixture resembles wet sand, 2–3 minutes. Add eggs and vanilla; beat until fluffy and well combined, about 2 minutes. Add dry ingredients; beat until smooth (batter will be thick). Using an offset spatula, evenly spread batter in prepared pan.
Bake blondie until golden brown, edges pull away from sides of pan, 20–25 minutes. Let cool.
For the caramel:
Stir sugar, 1/2 cup water and the corn syrup in a large saucepan over medium-low heat until sugar dissolves. Increase heat; boil without stirring, occasionally swirling pan and brushing down sides with a wet pastry brush (if needed) until caramel is deep amber, 12–15 minutes. Add butter; stir until blended. Add cream and beer(mixture will bubble vigorously); whisk until smooth. Stir in cashews and pretzels. Pour over cooled blondie. Cool until set.
Run a knife around short sides of pan to release blondie. Using parchment-paper overhang, lift from pan. Cut lengthwise into strips. Cut each strip crosswise. I like to cut these pretty small as they are fairly rich. You can make them up to a week ahead of time.