Jan Norris: Food and Florida

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Oscar Night Snacks – “Toy Story 3” Caramel Corn, “Black Swan” Brownie Bites, Adult “Fighter” Punch

February 27th, 2011 · 1 Comment

I have no Oscar predictions – but sincerely hope Christian Bale (The Fighter) and Geoffrey Rush (The King’s Speech) are recognized for what I thought were brilliant, believable performances.

I do predict that millions will watch this show tonight – and some will want to munch on something, so here are recipes that you could consider.

Go beyond the normal faux-Crackerjacks and make caramel corn with bacon, coconut, wasabi peas or your favorite crunchy thing. If you want to gild this lily, drizzle it with melted chocolate after it’s cooked; let harden and separate.

For Toy Story 3 fans:

Caramel corn
(Have two well-greased baking sheets prepared ahead and sitting on a heat-proof surface. Heat the oven to 250 degrees.)

  • 12 cups plain popped popcorn
  • 3/4 cup dry-roasted peanuts (see variations), optional
  • 3/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 3 -1/2 tablespoons clear corn syrup
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 cup plus 3 tablespoons butter
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla (see variations)

Mix the popcorn with any add-ins you like. Pour mix into greased baking sheets and set on a flat, heatproof surface. Heat oven to 250 degrees.
In a heavy-bottomed saucepan, combine brown sugar, corn syrup, butter and salt. Bring to a boil over medium heat, stirring to blend and melt sugar. When mixture begins to boil, time it and boil for 5 minutes, stirring constantly. Mixture should be golden. Remove from heat, and stirring rapidly, stir in baking soda and vanilla. Caramel will foam and be lighter in color. Pour at once over popcorn in prepared pans, stirring to coat corn.
Bake in 250-degree oven for 1 hour, stirring to coat well. Pour cooked caramel corn into a large bowl or pan, and separate pieces. Add sea salt, if desired and stir. Store in an airtight container. Refrigeration will cause corn to become sticky.
Variations: Add in 3/4 cup any crunchy food you like or combination: roasted nuts, wasabi peas, pretzels, cereal squares, corn-nuts, crisp bacon bits, etc. For flavorings, use best quality vanilla, hazelnut or chocolate liqueur, rum or bourbon, maple or coconut flavorings. Garlic or herbs can be stirred into the popcorn mix before caramel is added.

Begin these brownie bites by melting chocolate 30 minutes before you begin – it must cool. Warm chocolate will ruin the brownies.

Pioneer Woman’s Brownie Bites, adapted

(This recipe makes 24 mini-muffin sized brownie bites.)

  • 4 ounces unsweetened chocolate, melted, cooled
  • 1 cup (2 sticks) butter, softened slightly
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 4 large eggs
  • 3 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1-1/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup milk chocolate chips
  • 1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chunks
  • For glaze:
  • 8 ounces semi-sweet chocolate, chopped (do not use chocolate chips)
  • 1 cup cream, scalded
  • 2 tablespoons light corn syrup
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • chopped nuts, or silver or gold sprinkling sugar, to decorate (optional)

Preheat oven to 325 degrees.

Make brownies: melt 4 ounces chocolate and set aside to cool for 15 to 30 minutes. Chocolate should not be warm. In the bowl of a stand mixer or with electric mixer, cream butter and sugar till fluffy. Beat in the eggs two at a time. With mixer on low, drizzle in cooled chocolate. Mix until just combined. Remove from mixer and stir in flour with rubber spatula until just combined. Do not beat. Scrape bowl well, and stir again briefly. Add chocolate chips and chunks and stir in till evenly distributed.

Grease mini-muffin pans very well. Fill muffin cups 7/8 full. Bake for 12 to 14 minutes or until just set. Remove and cool 1 minute; turn out onto cooling racks and cool completely before glazing.

To make glaze, put chopped chocolate into a medium glass bowl. Mix cream with corn syrup and heat in microwave-safe bowl for 1 minute and 15 seconds on High power. Add vanilla to cream mixture and stir; pour over chopped chocolate. Stir until chocolate melts completely and is silky smooth. Glaze by dunking brownie bites, secured on a dipping fork, into icing. Tap excess chocolate into bowl. Alternately, set brownie bites on cooling rack over clean baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Spoon melted glaze over all, allowing to drip into pan below. Use a rubber spatula to put glaze back into bowl and glaze a second time or dip bottoms, once tops have set.

Set dipped brownies onto a Silpat or baking sheet lined with waxed paper. Add chopped nuts or silver or gold sprinkles to decorate.

Makes 24 brownie bites. These freeze well.

(Recipe adapted from the terrific web site: Pioneerwoman.com)

You can use pitchers, instead of a punchbowl, for your party. Make 2 pitchers – one without the spirits, for those who don’t imbibe.

Adult Fighter punch (aka Hurricanes)

  • 2 cups light rum
  • 2 cups passion fruit syrup or nectar
  • 2 quarts lemon-lime soda, chilled
  • 1 cup freshly squeezed lime juice
  • 4 cups ice
  • 151 proof rum, for floating
  • lime wheels for glass rim

Combine light rum, passion fruit syrup, lemon-lime soda and lime juice in a large mixing bowl. Stir in ice; pour into pitcher. Pour into individual tall glasses with additional ice, if needed; top with 151 proof rum shot and serve with a long straw. (Drink is supposed to deliver a “punch” at the end – it gets stronger as you sip from the bottom.)

For non-alcohol version: add 2 cups of lemonade or orange juice, in place of the light rum.


Tags: Baking: Cheap therapy · Party Foods · Recipes: What's Cooking!

1 response so far ↓

  • 1 Karen Dennis // Feb 27, 2011 at 8:34 pm

    Was having a chocolate craving so I made the brownie bites. They are a chocoholic’s dream and the perfect size for my craving ( i froze the rest).

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