Caramel Popcorn Bunnies
- 3 tablespoons of organic sunflower oil
- 1 cup organic, heirloom popcorn kernels (7 ounces)
- 1/2 teaspoon of sea salt (fine grain)
- 2 cups light organic brown sugar
- 1/2 cup of organic cane sugar
- 1/2 cup organic light agave syrup
- 1 cup organic salted butter (Straus is my favorite brand)
- 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
- 1 cup organic sweetened coconut shreds
- Melted butter or non-stick spray
- Various decoration materials: royal icing; jelly beans; licorice laces; chocolate covered sunflower seeds; coconut shreds; M & Ms
- Large metal bowl
- Candy thermometer
- Bunny shaped cookie cutters
- Cookie sheet
- Clean rubber glove
- Make popcorn: Use a hand-cranked, stovetop popper. Place the oil, salt and popcorn in a stovetop, hand cranked popcorn maker. Place it over medium heat. Shake and agitate/rotate the handle constantly. The ideal popping temperature is 479F. Continue shaking and agitating until the popcorn finishes popping, approximately 3 minutes.
- If you don't have a popper, you can use a stainless mixing bowl to simulate the environment. It's not ideal but I can produce good results. Place the oil, salt and popcorn in a large, 6-quart, metal mixing bowl. Cover with aluminum foil. Pierce holes (about 10 to 12) in the top with a knife. Place the bowl over medium heat.
- The ideal popping temperature is 479F. Hold the bowl over the fire with a pair of tongs and shake constantly. Continue shaking until the popcorn finishes popping (about 3 minutes). Remove the bowl from the heat and remove the foil carefully.
- Combine popped popcorn and sweetened coconut shreds in a large bowl. Set aside.
- Grease cookie cutters and a cookie sheet with butter or non-stick spray
- Combine brown sugar, cane sugar, butter, and agave syrup in a medium heavy saucepan (copper is best). Stir the caramel mixture constantly with a wooden spoon and heat to a gentle boil over medium-high heat. Cook until mixture reaches 260F degrees on a candy thermometer. Then, immediately sprinkle baking soda into the mixture and quickly stir it a few times. This should "fluff" up the mixture. Remove from heat.
- Pour caramel over the popcorn & coconut mixture. Stir with a large heat-resistant spatula to evenly coat popcorn.
- Using a clean rubber glove, scoop a handful of warm caramel popcorn into a cookie cutter. Using the cookie cutter as a mold, press down the caramel popcorn to fill each corner. Once the popcorn has molded into a bunny shape, carefully remove the cookie cutter.
- Decorate caramel popcorn bunny with candy and royal icing. Ideas: Red gumdrop for the bunny nose. Chocolate covered sunflower seeds for the eyes. Cut strings of black string licorice and place these on either side of the gumdrop to act as whiskers. Gift idea: wrap the decorated bunny in cello bag and tie with a ribbon.
About Jean Arnold, Founder, 479 Popcorn:
To say that Jean Arnold has a passion for food would be a dramatic understatement. The high-energy founder of 479° Popcorn developed a keen appreciation for the culinary arts at a young age.
During her formative years, she was exposed to many different food cultures having lived in three different continents and developed a highly discerning palate.
With a zeal for traveling and cooking, Jean moved to Europe from NYC at the age of nineteen. She attended Cambridge University and earned a certificate at Le Cordon Bleu in London. After several years, Jean decided to return to the States and move to San Francisco.
On her last day in London, she met up with a friend of a friend for a beer. His name was Andy and little did Jean know, she was about to fall in love with her future husband. Jean and Andy share a passionate commitment to high-quality food.
Over the years, their San Francisco dinner parties became sought-after events as Jean became more committed than ever to finding the finest ingredients on the market and preparing the most unique dishes.
After more than a decade in the business world, Jean decided that her obsession needed a larger outlet. And so 479° Popcorn was born, partly out of enthusiasm for her favorite snack and partly out of the frustration that she couldn't find anything to meet her exacting standards. She then embarked on a journey to rede?ne popcorn.
Jean personally investigated different corn varieties, visited organic farms throughout Northern California and spoke with farmers about their growing methods.
Jean eventually found two family farms growing heirloom popcorn with the perfect balance of fluffy kernels, corny taste, and satisfying crunch.
She then spent a year and a half in her test kitchen, researching popping methods, temperatures and flavor combinations. She experimented with different types of caramel and a range of savory spices, from Pimentòn de La Vera to chipotle peppers and Vietnamese cinnamon.
Along the way, she fed her test batches to friends and acquaintances. Bolstered by the fabulous feedback from friends and family, Jean and Andy launched 479° Popcorn in September of 2008.
For more information, go to www.479popcorn.com