Lazy Christmas Cookie Season (and Recipe for Caramel Popcorn)

I have not had much motivation to bake this year.

For the past few years around the holiday season, I have pulled out the family recipe book, my Big Book of Illustrated Desserts, Holiday Cookies, and the latest Bon Appetit and Food & Wine to pick out the selection of cookies I will bake. My initial list is usually more ambitious (Marmalade Ginger Snaps!) with the final cut being more practical and family-tradition-oriented. I make Pizelles, or as my family calls them, Waffle Cookies, these caramel-chocolate barks made with saltine crackers (no idea what they’re called, but they’re amazing), and peanut butter cookies, for Husband.

This year I had no such desire to bake. Usually when I’m stressed out, I will cook and bake elaborate (and usually with a high degree of failure) dishes to relax. But this semester really took the cake when it came to baking. With only a week to go before leaving for our Texas tour, I still hadn’t made any cookies. So I streamlined my cookie production to narrow it down to three.

I made Rice Crispy treats with Fruity Pebbles, Date Balls, and Caramel Popcorn. That’s it.

I made six microwave bags worth of Caramel Popcorn, and its already gone. I gave some to family and friends as we made our way through Texas, and by the time we got to MIL’s house, we were out.

The recipe follows below; I strongly recommend it for anyone who is already exhausted. Remember, you still have 6 days of shopping left. Stash this in your car—the secret to endurance is keeping your energy high, right?

Microwave Caramel Popcorn
Pop two bags of popcorn, and put into a brown paper grocery bag. Discard unpopped kernels.

In a glass bowl, combine:
1 stick butter
1 C brown sugar
1/4 c light corn syrup
pinch salt

Microwave on high for 1 minute, 30 seconds. Stir, and microwave for an additional 3 minutes.

Add
1 T vanilla
1 t baking soda

Stir. Mixture will bubble and foam—it’s really cool. Pour over popcorn in brown paper grocery bag. Fold the top of the bag (to close) and shake your little heart out. Put the entire brown grocery bag in the microwave for one minute. Shake, shake, shake. Put it back into the microwave for one minute. Shake your boot-ay. Microwave for 30 seconds. Shake, and then spread the caramel popcorn on a couple of cookie sheets to cool. If you are OCD like my mother, pick out unpopped kernels while it cools. If you are lazy and hungry like me, start eating the popcorn as it cools (watch out! it’s hot!). When it is cool, break up and put into Ziploc bags.

When I gave it to some friends, they said I should try putting melted chocolate on it to make caramel popcorn balls. I can’t vouch for that. But if you try it, let me know.

Happy Baking!

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6 thoughts on “Lazy Christmas Cookie Season (and Recipe for Caramel Popcorn)

  1. L.G.Smith says:

    I would SO add chocolate to the mix. Wow, now I want some caramel popcorn. I'm keeping the cookie baking to a minimum this year. Only four varieties. 🙂

  2. Lori Oster says:

    This sounds delicious. I'm definitely going to try this for my Harry Potter movie marathon with the niece and nephew next week. Thank you!I make super easy (and cheap!) popcorn on the stove top. I highly recommend it, it tastes so good, and you can add sugar or other things if you'd like to change the flavor.Here's how, in case you're interested:Put a tablespoon of vegetable oil (or some other high-heat tolerant oil) in a 2.5 or 3 quart pot. Turn heat to medium high, and put four kernels in. Cover. When the four kernels have popped, add 1/3 cup of kernels, cover, and turn off heat for 30 seconds. After 30 seconds, turn heat back on to medium-high, cover with lid askew so air can escape, to keep popcorn light and crunchy. At this point, I sneak in a couple pats of butter and some popcorn salt. You can add as much or as little as you'd like. Wait until all popcorn has popped, and enjoy. All of the kernels should pop this way, I never have any that remain unpopped.Popcorn is so good this way, and so CHEAP! A big bag of kernels doesn't even cost $2, and it lasts so long. Can't wait to make my first batch of caramel popcorn!

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