Monday, February 1, 2016

My New Favorite Sweet Snack and Party Food: Toffee Puff Corn



Our lives are so busy lately that when I have an opportunity to slow down and spend some time with my family I jump on it, so I was happy to get to spend last Saturday with my daughter. Like lots of mothers and daughters, we usually head to the mall for lots of window shopping and a nice long lunch.

On this particular day we headed over to a nearby mall that has undergone a total renovation. Once on the downhill slide, this place has now been transformed into a whole new world with marble floors, new stores and as they go, a great selection of chain restaurants.

Our favorite little surprise at this mall was the marketplace that is tucked away in a dark little corner on the ground floor. The walls are clad in rough, dark wood planks with market lights strung across the ceiling giving it an intimate, almost outdoors at night feel. Each stall here is filled with handcrafted goods and vintage bric-a-brac. Just our kind of place.

After meandering around for awhile, we ran across a vendor selling snacks. You know the kind, spiced nuts, flavored popcorn, and a crispy, crunchy, sweet and salty little snack that I had never had before, and as you all know, I've been around awhile and I eat a lot of stuff. So I grabbed a handful (in the interest of science) making a promise to my daughter that I would Google this stuff until I figured it out.

Well it didn't take long to figure out that this new (to me) taste sensation is called toffee puff corn. From what I understand, this is has been a favorite snack in the midwest for years, and all I can say is shame on them for not telling me about it sooner. I absolutely love this stuff and think you will too.

If you need a great snack to take to a. . . for instance. . . football watching party, this is the ticket. It is not too hard to make and you can prepare it days in advance if you keep it in a air tight container.


Toffee Puff Corn

This recipe is very similar to my caramel corn, but the end result is quite different. I have added sriracha to mine to give it a sweet and spicy flavor, but you can leave it out if your taste buds prefer something tamer. If you omit the sriracha, you can substitute it with vanilla extract, just stir it in before the baking soda.




3 - 5 ounce bags butter flavored corn puffs (also called hulless popcorn, find this in the potato chip aisle of the grocery store)
1 cup (2 sticks) butter
1-1/2 cups light brown sugar
1/2 cup light corn syrup
2 - 4 tablespoons sriracha (optional)
1 teaspoon baking soda

Preheat oven to 275 degrees.

Cover a large sheet pan with parchment or waxed paper. Set aside.

Pour puff corn into a large roasting pan. Set aside.

Place butter, brown sugar, corn syrup and sriracha (if using) in a large size, heavy bottom sauce pan and set over medium high heat. Stir ingredients in pan until butter melts and mixture begins to boil. Reduce heat to medium and cook for 2 - 3 minutes, stirring frequently.

Stir in baking soda. Be aware that the hot toffee sauce in the pan will foam and increase in volume after you add the baking soda.

Quickly drizzle the toffee over the puff corn in the roasting pan, stirring with a large wooden spoon as you go. Stir gently to coat. Place in preheated oven and cook for 15 minutes. Remove pan from the oven, stir well and return to cook for an additional 15 minutes. Do this 3 times for a total baking time of 45 minutes.

Pour puff corn onto the prepared sheet pan. Separate pieces as they will want to stick together. Cool and enjoy. Store in an airtight container.

Makes a bunch.