In the Cookie Jar

Pistachio Praline Popcorn

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The September issue of Gourmet magazine is arranged kind of alphabetically.  I've already used two recipes, which is funny, in a way, because though I love my cooking magazines, for some reason I hardly use the recipes.  I get ideas, of course, but I don't necessarily follow the recipes.  This month's is different – there are a lot of them that appeal to me.

This was one of them. 

I love any sort of popcorn/nuts/sugar/butter combination, so this was very appealing, and I also figured everyone else would like it as well, which would (theoretically) keep me from eating the whole concoction by myself. 

I doubled the recipe.

Here's my version.  If you're interested in the original, you can find it on page 112 of the September 09 edition of Gourmet.  

Oh, and the original recipe is for PECAN Praline Popcorn Treats, but I had pistachios because of another recipe in the magazine, so I used them instead.  Hey, they begin with a "P" so I figured that was thematically acceptable.

Anyway.  Here's my recipe.

Pistachio Praline Popcorn

3  1/2 cups sugar

10 Tbs unsalted butter, cut into pieces

1 cup shelled dry roasted pistachios

1 tsp cider vinegar

1 tsp salt

16 cups plain popped popcorn

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Oil two 9-inch square baking pans. 

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Heat the sugar in a dry, wide heavy pot over medium heat, stirring with a fork to heat the sugar evenly, until it starts to melt. 

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Stop stirring and cook, swirling the pot occasionally so sugar melts evenly, until it is a deep golden caramel.  (How long you want to cook the sugar will depend on how dark you like your caramel.  The darker the color, the darker and richer (and some would say burnt) the flavor.  You'll be able to smell it as it's cooking, so, like the toucan used to say, follow your nose.

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Reduce heat to low.  Stir inthe  butter, pistachios, vinegar, and salt. 

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When butter is almost melted, add popcorn and stir to coat.

Divide the mixture between the two baking pans and press down with a spatula.  Cool completelythe  (if you have enough willpower) .  Cut or break into pieces.  Store in an airtight jar or other container.

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Try not to eat it all at once.

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Now, in the interest of full disclosure, I have to let you know that I screwed up the sugar the first time because the pot I used was too narrow and I have no idea (scientifically) what happened, but the sugar hardened into lumps, melted, bubbled, then hardened right back into hard lumps again.  Very weird.  Second time around I used a WIDE pan, and that worked much better.  So learn from my mistakes.

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Keep in mind – HOT, MELTY, BOILING SUGAR WILL HURT A LOT IF IT TOUCHES YOUR SKIN – so be VERY, VERY careful with it.  I was dumb enough to pour the hot sugar mixture into the popcorn, which was in a METAL bowl, and then when I went to pour the whole mixture into the pans, I was holding it with my right hand by the edge with a potholder AND on the side of the bowl with my bare left hand.  Ouch.  Dumb dumb dumb.  Don't be like me!  Be careful and THINK about what you're doing!!!

Anyway, dividing it into the two pans wasn't hard.  And the fun part was checking to see how the cooling and drying was going.  I'd pull a piece of popcorn up and the cooling caramel would become golden strings.  Very fun.

First picture is blurry – sorry.

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Be warned:  This is addictive, dangerous stuff. 

Enjoy!

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