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Amanda Skiba: A gift you’ll want to keep all to yourself

Amanda Skiba
For the Nevada Appeal
CourtesyAmanda Skiba's Cinnamon Bun Carmel Corn makes the perfect gift or is perfect to share at your next holiday party.
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This recipe is a fantastic idea to give as a gift or to share at any Christmas party. Christmas or any homemade gift giving throughout the year. My daughter and I made this for her teacher on the first day of kindergarten. Crispy, sweet, cinnamon-spiced popcorn with a creamy chocolatey swirl is such a perfect snack. Seriously, it almost did not make it to the teacher. Actually, I’m pretty glad that we were giving it away because my daughter and I would have eaten it all in minutes. My mom took some home and instead of sharing with my dad and brother, she saved it for herself. Really, it is that good.

This would work really well packaged up in a little baggie with sparkly, curled ribbon and a gift tag. Your gifted friends will be so happy. And it is kind of a change from the “Christmas cookie” world (not that I have any thing bad to say about cookies). However, I would eat this at any time of the year and it would make me smile. What will make you smile is that this recipe is very easy to make.

Cinnamon BunCarmel Corn

12 cups of popped popcorn (11⁄2 cup of kernels)

1 cup nuts (optional) – cashews, almonds, peanuts, pecans

1 cup brown sugar

1⁄2 cup Karo syrup

a pinch of salt

1 stick or cube of real butter

1⁄2 teaspoon cinnamon (optional)

1 teaspoon vanilla

1⁄2 teaspoon baking soda

Almond bark, vanilla chips or white chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 250 degrees

Pop your popcorn – I use my air popper so that there isn’t the added oil from popping in a pan and it cuts down on the hard kernels too. However, you could use microwave popcorn, or oil popped corn. I am not sure how buttered microwave popcorn would taste, but you can always try. Remove any kernels.

You will need about 12 cups of popcorn.

In a saucepan, melt the butter. Once melted add your brown sugar, Karo syrup and salt.

Over medium heat melt the butter and sugar (You can do this part in a microwave by cooking in 2 minute intervals and stirring until completely melted).

While the butter and sugar are cooking get the vanilla, cinnamon and baking soda ready. Once the sugar and butter are melted, remove from heat and add these last three ingredients. The caramel will lighten in color and sort of poof up … this is good.

Pour the caramel over the popcorn in a very large bowl (or a few big bowls if you don’t have one large). Toss the caramel and popcorn until completely coated (oh and you can add nuts at this point too).

Place your pan or pans in a preheated 250 degree oven.

Stir every 5 minutes and rotate pans. The recipe I used said to cook for 20 minutes for crunchy corn, I think it was more like 30-35 minutes.

Remove the popcorn from the oven and lay on wax paper on the counter to cool. It will get crunchier as it cools.

Now you can melt the white chocolate and drizzle over all the popcorn – as little or as much as you’d like. Idea: put red food coloring in the white chocolate to add a bit of Christmas color, and maybe some festive sprinkles.

• Amanda Skiba is passionate about cooking and posts her favorite recipes at http://www.stuffurface.wordpress.com