Buttery + Salty Marshmallow Popcorn Crunch

Buttery + Salty Marshmallow Popcorn Crunch

What if there could be a treat that was like Rice Krispie treats, but also like a bowl of kettle corn, and then also salty, but then dotted with an obnoxious amount of sprinkles?  That would be good news.  Actually, that would be what’s happening here!

It’s success and celebration, all in a popcorn bowl.  

Happy Monday!  Just go for it: sprinkle and marshmallow everything today.   

Related:  I’m really into aggressively-flavored popcorn… Roy Choi’s Furikake Kettle Corn

Buttery + Salty Marshmallow Popcorn Crunch

Here’s how this magic happens.  Fresh popped popcorn (from scratch is my favorite), corn flakes for crisp and crunch, marshmallows and butter because we’re obnoxious geniuses, and sea salt because sweet needs salt.  

Buttery + Salty Marshmallow Popcorn Crunch

Butter and marshmallows are melted down into a syrup.  If you’re thinking that this mixture resembled Rice Krispie Treats, you’re right.  

Related:  Malty and Salty Brown Butter Treats.  

Buttery + Salty Marshmallow Popcorn Crunch

I used a buttered sheet pan to assemble the popcorn.  More marshmallow coverage.  More room to spread and stir.  

Buttery + Salty Marshmallow Popcorn Crunch

Warm buttery marshmallows drizzled over the popcorn and corn flakes and stirred.  Salt and sprinkles too.  Salt for balance and sprinkles for love and happiness.  

Buttery + Salty Marshmallow Popcorn Crunch

I would humbly suggest putting on the movie Step Brothers, pouring yourself a big glass of orange juice (my favorite with popcorn), and maybe a few wet wipes too.  Things could get a little sticky.  

Buttery + Salty Marshmallow Popcorn Crunch

Sweet and salty, crunchy and sprinkled, buttery and perfect.


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For the Popcorn
  1. 1/4 cup canola oil
  2. heaping 1/3 cup yellow corn kernels
  3. (or about 12 cups of popcorn)
  4. salt, to taste
  5. 2 heaping cups corn flakes
For the Marshmallow Sauce
  1. 1/2 cup unsalted butter, plus more for greasing a pan
  2. 1-16 ounce bag mini marshmallows
  3. salt, to taste
  4. rainbow sprinkles, to delight
Instructions
  1. To make the popcorn, in a medium saucepan with a tight-fitting lid, heat the canola oil over medium heat. Add the corn kernels in an even layer over the bottom of the pan. Place the lid over the pan, keeping the lid slightly ajar.
  2. Allow popcorn to begin popping. When popping slows, remove from heat and sprinkle lightly with salt. Shake into a large bowl.
  3. Lightly grease a large rimmed baking sheet. Set aside.
  4. In a small saucepan, melt butter and add marshmallows. Stir the mixture until the marshmallows are completely melted. Remove from heat.
  5. Spread popcorn across the greased baking sheet. Sprinkle corn flakes over the popcorn. Drizzle the warm marshmallow mixture over the popcorn and cornflakes. You may find that you don’t need to use all of the marshmallow mixture. Use enough for a light coating of the popcorn and cornflakes. Use a large spoon to evenly coat all of the popcorn and cornflakes.
  6. Sprinkle generously with salt and sprinkles and enjoy immediately.

Salty Honey Pie

Salty Honey Pie

Happy New Year my friends!  It’s just about time to tie a pretty ribbon on this year.  A wrap.

But… not before we make a Honey Pie.  It’s been a sweet year.  I mean that most literally.  It feels like we should wrap the year up with pie, because I’m pretty sure my heart is part muscle and part pie.  I’m also fairly certain that honey runs through my veins.  And so here we are… with Vanilla Sea Salt in tow.  

Let’s make a pie and call it a year… almost almost.

Salty Honey Pie

Original Photography Shot with the Canon EOS 6D Digital SLR. The perfect multimedia solution.

This Salty Honey Pie recipe comes from the very special The Four and Twenty Blackbird Pie Book.  I’m newly crushing on this book.  So much so, that I got this book for my dad for Christmas.  I had to take the book for a test drive before I wrapped it up and gifted it, naturally… so I chose this beautifully sweet custard pie.

Salty Honey Pie

This pie bakes up like a custard pie.  That means we start with melted butter, sugar, eggs, and milk or cream of some sort.

Salty Honey Pie

A tablespoon of cornmeal is added for a bit of texture, too… whisked together with the melted butter, sugar, and salt.

Salty Honey Pie

Honey is up next!  I used a raw sage honey.  It’s a lovely amber color with a mild/hint of herby flavor. I think any sort of honey would be wonderful, but I might steer away from buckwheat honey.

Salty Honey Pie

Eggs are whisked in one at a time, all proper like.  Heavy cream and a splash of vinegar are last.

Salty Honey Pie

We’ve made pie crust together about 458 time.  It’s a  stellar combination of butter, flour, and buttermilk smashed together and chilled.

You can find more step-by-step pie instructions with this Peach and Blueberry Pie post.

Salty Honey Pie

Rolled and trimmed.

Salty Honey Pie

And filled.

Salty Honey Pie

I consider this pie nouveau comfort food.  The custard pie is honey-sweet and familiar.  The crust is buttery, flakey, and downright perfect.  The addition of sea salt (or in my case, Vanilla Sea Salt) adds the most interesting balance. I love salt in my desserts.  Salt is really what keeps you coming back for more.  This pie’s brazen use of finishing salt feels crazy and luxurious, and new, and weirdly just right.   Make the pie. Buy the book.  Do it all!  (I promise to be less bossy in the new year.)  (Not true.)

Salty Honey Pie

makes 1 9-inch pie

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For the Crust:

1/2 cup (4 ounces) cold unsalted butter, cut into small cubes

1 1/2 cup all-purpose flour

2 teaspoons granulated sugar

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/3 cup cold buttermilk

For the Filling:

1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, melted

1/2 cup granulated sugar

1 tablespoon white cornmeal

scant 1/2 teaspoon salt

1 vanilla bean, split and scraped (or 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract)

3/4 cup honey (I use raw sage honey)

3 large eggs

1/2 cup heavy cream

2 teaspoons apple cider vinegar

1 to 2 teaspoons flaked sea salt (I used Vanilla Sea Salt)

To make the crust, in a medium bowl, whisk together flour, sugar, and salt.  Add cold, cubed butter and, using your fingers (or a potato masher), work the butter into the flour mixture.  Quickly break the butter down into the flour mixture, some butter pieces will be the size of oat flakes, some will be the size of peas. Create a well in the mixture and pour in the cold buttermilk.  Use a fork to bring to dough together.  Try to moisten all of the flour bits.  Add a bit more buttermilk if necessary, but you want to mixture to be shaggy and not outwardly wet.

On a lightly floured work surface, dump out the dough mixture.  It will be moist and shaggy.  That’s perfect.  Gently knead into a disk.  Wrap the disk in plastic wrap and refrigerate for 1 hour.  Allowing the dough to rest in the refrigerator will help rechill the butter and distribute the moisture.

To roll out the pie crust, on a well floured surface, roll the crust 1/8 inch thick and about 12 inches in diameter.  Transfer it to a pie pan.  Trim the edge almost even with the edge of the pan  Fold the edges under and crimp with your fingers or a fork.  Cover it with plastic wrap and refrigerate it for a minimum of 30 minutes and a maximum of 3 hours.

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.  Place a rack in the center of the oven.

To make the filling, in a medium bowl whisk together melted butter, sugar, cornmeal, and salt.  Split vanilla bean  and add the vanilla bean scrapings (or extract, if using) into the butter mixture and whisk until thoroughly combined.  Whisk in honey.

Add the eggs, one at a time, whisking to combine.

Whisk in heavy cream and vinegar.

Pour the filling into the prepared pie crust.  Bake pie for 45 to 55 minutes until pie is deep golden brown and puffed around the edges and set in the center.  Open the oven and rotate the pie halfway through baking.  Remove from the oven and allow to rest for at least 4 hours before serving.  Serve warm or at room temperature, and sprinkle with sea salt just before serving.  

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Burnt Orange Salty Caramel Sauce

Burnt Orange Caramel Sauce

What are you supposed to do with a no good, very bad toothache? 

Warm salt water rinse?  An emergency visit to the dentist?  Eighty seven bottles of over-the-counter pain killers?  Bourbon?  Marathon viewing of old Seinfeld episodes?  

I’ve been trying to figure this out all week.  So far I’ve found the most solace in a pint of smooth vanilla ice cream and this sweet Burnt Orange Caramel Sauce (and an exciting appointment with my new New Orleans dentist).  

Cool story, right?  Hopefully you can treat yourself to a sweet caramel sundae without the pain.  

(Oh!  If you’re thinking that the reason I have a toothache is because I eat too much dang caramel… No.  Not listening.)   

Burnt Orange Caramel Sauce

These oranges were gifted from Martine Chaisson.  Glory be! 

Burnt Orange Caramel Sauce

Here’s how caramel comes together:  granulated sugar, super fresh orange juice, and a bit of corn syrup are simmered together.  

Once browned, toasted and golden, we’ll add our fats:  heavy cream and unsalted butter.  Heavy hitters. 

Salt and vanilla for extra flavor points.  

Burnt Orange Caramel Sauce

Making caramel is about faith, trust, and timing.  It’s an exercise.  

We’re going to need some faith in he fact that we can simmer sugar until deeply golden brown.  We’re going to trust that we won’t burn the caramel… because we’re going to try really hard not to.  And we’re going to need timing and guts to know when golden enough is golden enough.  

Burnt Orange Caramel Sauce

Once the sugar and orange juice is browned and golden, the heavy cream and butter are stirred into the simmering sugar.  The simmering caramel may seize when the cold butter and cream.  That’s cool.  This is where some of our faith comes in.  Just keep stirring.

The cream and butter add a lovely viscosity to the caramel.  

I added sea salt and caramel just after the fats are stirred in.  Salt to balance the sweetness.  Vanilla to round out the orange caramel.  

Burnt Orange Caramel Sauce

Time for ice cream with caramel and crunch.  

Burnt Orange Caramel Sauce

Creamy vanilla ice cream with this sweet, toasty orange caramel sauce.  It’s sweet, salty, dreamy and the orange adds a really lovely depth of flavor.  

Coarsely chopped pecan pralines to top.  Keep it 100.  

Burnt Orange Caramel Sauce

Burnt Orange Salty Caramel Sauce

Orange sweet caramel sauce for topping ice cream


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Ingredients
  1. 1/2 cup fresh-squeezed orange juice
  2. 1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
  3. 2 tablespoons light corn syrup
  4. 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  5. 1/2 cup heavy cream
  6. 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  7. 1/4 teaspoon coarse sea salt, plus more to taste
Instructions
  1. In a medium saucepan over medium heat stir together orange juice, sugar, and corn syrup. Swirl the pan as the sugar begins to dissolve and the mixture begins to simmer.
  2. Keep a close eye on the mixture as it simmers and browns. No need to stir, just keep swirling the pan. The mixture will brown to a deep golden and begin to smell toasty.
  3. Remove from heat and quickly add butter and cream. The mixture will begin to seize a bit, but stir until incorporated and smooth.
  4. Stir in the vanilla extract and salt.
  5. Allow to cool before tasting. Add more salt if desired.
  6. Drizzle warm caramel over vanilla ice cream. Top with chopped almonds or chopped praline pecans.
  7. Store in an airtight jar and store in the refrigerator for up to 5 days.

Salty Sesame and Dark Chocolate Chip Cookies

chocolate sesame cookies

Three (top notch) (totally awesome) (majorly job applicable) (important!) skills I’d like to add to my job resume.  (Yes… this is a place my mind wanders.)

–  Outrageous use of punctuation and constant abuse of sentence structure.  While at first troublesome and awkward, the abuse does (over time) lend itself to a conversational and relatable tone.

–  Able to catch any cell phone as it falls through the air towards the floor.  It’s a super power… I’ve got it.

–  Adept at combining busy prints with colorful plaids in office wear outfits… without causing serious blindness.

Bonus!

–  Consistent cookies at work.  I bring em.  I mean, come on!

Wait… do people still know how to write resumes?  Is that still a thing kids learn in school, or is everyone just building the Internet these days?  What’s going on… and when did I start sounding like a kooky old lady!?

chocolate sesame cookies

These cookies are full of everything you would expect:  dark chocolate chips, pure vanilla extract, and sugars.

These cookies also have a few bonus ingredients:  black sesame seeds and soy sauce.

I put soy sauce in cookies.  Just a touch.  I think it adds a really subtle earthy saltiness.  It’s the little thing in these cookies that make you go… hm!!

chocolate sesame cookies

Butter and sugar is where it all begins.

If you don’t have a stand mixer, feel free to use hand beaters or just a bowl and wooden spoon.

chocolate sesame cookies

Either way you mix it, you’ll want  the butter and sugar to come to this creamy and fluffy consistency.

Add eggs and beat until thick and creamy.

chocolate sesame cookies

Simple dry ingredients.  Just flour, baking soda, and salt.

chocolate sesame cookies

Sesame seeds and a toothsome and just slightly savory quality to these cookies.  I like to add just a touch of coarse sea salt to the top of the cookies before they bake.

chocolate sesame cookies

These cookies are chewy-salty chocolate-sesame studded-good times.  They’re different.  They’re pretty… just like your shoes and your hair.

I have always been a major advocate of bringing fresh baked cookies to a job interview.  Tell people they have soy sauce in them, but only if you want to show off.

Sesame and Dark Chocolate Chip Cookies

makes 20 to 24 cookies

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2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour

1 teaspoon baking soda

3/4 teaspoon salt

1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened

3/4 cup packed brown sugar

3/4 cup granulated sugar

1 large egg

1 large egg yolk

1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

3/4 to 1 teaspoon soy sauce (don’t be scared)

2 tablespoons black sesame seeds

1 cup dark chocolate chips

about 1/4 cup black sesame seeds for rolling and coarse sea salt for topping

Place racks in the center and upper third of the oven and line two baking sheets with parchment paper.  Set aside and we’ll preheat the oven after we chill the dough.

In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking soda, and salt.

In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, beat together butter and sugars until light and fluffy, about 3 to 5 minutes.  Stop the mixer and scrape down the butter mixture with a spatula.  Add the egg and egg yolk and beat on medium speed until mixture is fluffy, about 1 to 2 minutes.  Beat in the vanilla and soy sauce.  Stop the mixer and add the dry ingredients, all at once to the butter mixture.  Beat on low speed until just combined.  Stop the mixer, add the sesame seeds and chocolate chunks, and fold together with a  spatula until well combined.  Cover the dough with plastic wrap and refrigerate for about 45 minutes.

Just before you’re ready to bake the cookies, preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

Place about 1/4 cup black sesame seeds in a small bowl.

Scoop cookie dough by the heaping tablespoonful into your hand.  Roll into a ball, and toss around in the black sesame seeds.  The dough balls don’t need to be completely covered in seeds, just coated well.  Place on prepared baking sheets.  Bake for about 12 minutes, until lightly browned around the edges.  Remove from the oven, allow to cool on the baking sheet for about 10 minutes, then remove to a wire rack to cool completely.  Store cookies in an airtight container.  Cookies will last for a day or two.  The oils on the seeds can tend to go rancid.  These cookies are best eaten within a few days.  That shouldn’t be much trouble!

Salty and Malty Brown Butter Treats

salty and malty brown butter treats

Let’s set aside our pretentious and our kale.  We won’t need them.

We’re also going to set aside any tinges of guilt or doubt.

What we’re going to do is smash candy into our crispy rice treats… and we’re also going to feel really good about it.

Shall we?

Salty and Malty Brown Butter Treats

Salty and Malty Brown Butter Treats

We’re making these treats SUPREME.  Caps lock intentional.

Butter is melted and browned before its stirred into marshmallows.  Brown butter adds a depth of flavor to these treats that feels essential.

You’ll also find browned butter in these Browned Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies and this Brown Butter Banana Strawberry Bread because it’s empowering and delicious.

Salty and Malty Brown Butter Treats

We also stir in malted milk powder and a hearty amount of  salt!  Salt balances all of the mega sweetness.

Salty and Malty Brown Butter Treats

You know how hard it is to shell pistachios?  I always eat them more than I reserve them for a recipe.

The same can be said of slicing Whoppers candy.  It’s impossible not to eat most of them.

Whoppers are sort of like eating sweet sidewalk chalk covered in chocolate.  I mean that in the best possible way.

Salty and Malty Brown Butter Treats

A good sprinkle of sea salt on top.  A big knife to slice these suckers into (too) generous slices.  Dots of malted milk candy.  No oven. No baking.  Almost instant satisfaction.

Oh!  Also… no shame in out game whatsoever.

Salty and Malty Brown Butter Treats

makes 9 squares

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6 tablespoons unsalted butter

40 large marshmallows

1/4 teaspoon salt

6 cups rice cereal

1/3 cup malted milk powder

1 cup coarsely chopped Whoppers candy

coarse sea salt for topping

In a large saucepan over medium heat, melt the butter.  Melt butter until is begins to crackle and sizzle.  This means the water is cooking out of the butter and the butter will begin to brown.  Add marshmallows to the melted butter just as it begins to brown and reduce heat to low.  Add salt and stir until the marshmallows are completely melted, and the marshmallows and butter are thoroughly combined.

Quickly add rice cereal and malt powder and stir to combine.  The mixture will be thick and sticky.

Allow mixture to cool just slightly before adding 3/4 cups of the Whoppers candy.  Stir until just combined.

Press the mixture into a 9×9-inch square greased pan.  Use a greased piece of wax or parchment paper to firmly press the mixture into the pan.  The krispies will be thick.  Press the remaining Whoppers pieces into the top of the treats.

Allow to rest at room temperature until set and sliceable.  A refrigerator will make the setting process faster.

Slice into 9 large squares and wrap individually.  Treats will stay fresh for up to five days.

 

Baking A Difference with Salty Pretzel Vanilla Caramel Corn

Salty Pretzel Vanilla Caramel Corn

Growing up there was always some sort of magic bubbling away in the kitchen.  It was sometimes my Dad’s spaghetti sauce, maybe a baking fruit pie, or a deep amber caramel sauce.  The caramel days were always my favorite… for obvious reasons.

I remember learning how to make caramel as a kid.  Watching the sugar bubble with butter and corn syrup… it felt like I was learning a special science that would unlock an infinite amount of dessert possibilities.  Um… I was. It also felt like I had super powers.  Um.. I did.

Salty Pretzel Vanilla Caramel Corn

Caramel can lead to so many good things, including (but totally not limited to) caramel corn!

I’ve grown up a bit from my early caramel days.  I now adore a good dose of salt with my sweet caramel desserts. Combining buttery popcorn with salty pretzels feels like the perfect mixture of childhood snack and adult cravings, all wrapped together in the quick golden caramel sauce I’ve been making forever. Now, just extra salty.

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This summer I held a charitable bakesale to benefit a local women’s shelter in Los Angeles.  I made S’mores bars, jars of ginger syrup, and sooo many Chocolate Chip Cookies to help the Downtown Women’s Center is LA. So many of you came out to show your support this summer. I mean… it was RAD.  Thank you!  I feel like baking for a good cause is just that much sweeter.

These days I’m partnering with Fleischmann’s Yeast and Karo Syrup to benefit Share Our Strength’s No Kid Hungry campaign.

Fleischmann’s® Yeast, Fleischmann’s® Simply Homemade® Baking Mixes, and Karo® Syrup are launching the Baking A Difference campaign to benefit Share Our Strength’s No Kid Hungry.  They’re helping to end childhood hunger in America through the power of baking.

It’s actually really cool!  I’ll be working with them to twist their classic recipes for the Baking A Difference e-cookbook that’s going to be released in Spring 2014 as part of the Baking A Difference program.

You can get in on the action too! This September is No Kid Hungry month, and there’s lot of ways you can help: http://actioncenter.nokidhungry.org/.

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Let’s get this sweet treat started!

I know…  the bubbling sugars it takes to make caramel can be a little nerve-racking.  Not to worry!  If I can learn the tricks as a kid, you can totally do it now!   This caramel recipe doesn’t require a candy thermometer.  You can totally get through this with a little coaching if you’re nervous.

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In a saucepan, combine brown sugar, butter, corn syrup, and a dash of water.  Give it a stir and that’s it!  Turn on the heat and watch it bubble away for five minutes.  Really… no stirring.  All you have to do is stand there an observe caramel-y bubbles form.

Remove the pan from the heat after five minutes and carefully stir in baking soda and vanilla extract.  The baking soda will cause that key chemical reaction that fluffs the caramel (totally technical term) and the vanilla will add some flavor.  Salt too!  Now is a good time to add a big ol’ pinch!

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The popcorn and pretzels are given a good strong stir to ensure that all of the bits are covered.  Throw the glossy sweet mixture on a baking pan and let it sit in a low oven to dry out and set.  Once it’s rested in the oven, I like to sprinkle it with more sea salt.  Sweet and salty.  I told you I love it!

Once the caramel corn is dried and cooled it will be crisp and chewy and ready to pack into little cups for snacking.  I especially like to take this snack to my friends who worship football every Sunday.  While football may not be my jam (mostly because I don’t know why they’re always blowing whistles), I sure know how to please a crowd on football day.

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I’m trying to cover as many satisfying bases as I can with this caramel corn.  We’ve got the sweet and salty combination suspended in melted butter and vanilla.  We’ve got the crunch from pretzels.  We’ve got the chew from cooked caramel.  And we’re baking for charity!?  I mean.. I think we have it covered.

Salty Pretzel Vanilla Caramel Corn

makes about 14 cups popcorn

adapted from Karo Syrup

about 12 cups popped popcorn

about 2 cups pretzel twists

1 cup packed light brown sugar

1/2 cup light corn syrup

1/2 cup (1 stick, 4 ounces) unsalted butter

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

Place a rack in the center of the oven and preheat oven to 250 degrees F,  Grease a large (but shallow) roasting pan with butter or cooking spray, and add popcorn and pretzels to the pan.

In a 2 quart saucepan, combine brown sugar, corn syrup, butter, and salt  Whisk over medium heat until it begins to boil.  Allow to boil over medium heat (without stirring!!) for about 5 minutes.   The mixture will be deep gold and bubbling.

Remove from the heat and immediately stir in the baking soda.  The mixture will foam and froth.  That’s ok.  Keep stirring.  Stir in the vanilla extract.

Quickly pour warm syrup over popcorn and pretzel mixture.  Use to large spoons to toss the mixture, coating all of the popcorn and pretzels in caramel.  Work as quickly as you can.

Place in the oven and bake for 20 minutes.  Remove and toss.  Return to the oven to bake for another 20 minutes.  Remove from the oven and toss.  Allow to cool before handling and packaging.

Caramel corn will last up to 4 days well wrapped at room temperature.