Cooking with beer is likely familiar to some and unchartered territory for others. Beer imparts special character, aroma and taste to recipes, and lends adventure to culinary exploration. Although cocoa, eggnog, pies and other ubiquitous desserts may dominate your holiday gatherings, our head chef Micheal Iles cooked up a fresh idea for a sweet and savory snack: Celebration Ale popcorn.
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Caramel Popcorn with Celebration<sup>®</sup> Ale
2 cups popping corn
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
2 cups toasted nuts (e.g., pecans, almonds, peanuts)
1 cup dried fruit (e.g., cranberries, cherries)
Non-stick vegetable oil spray
Caramel sauce consisting of:
1/2 cup Celebration Ale
1/2 cup water
2 1/2 cups sugar
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup light corn syrup
1/2 tablespoon baking soda
1 stick unsalted butter
In a large pot with a lid, add the vegetable oil and the corn. With the lid on the pot, cook over moderately high heat, shaking the pot continuously for about 8 minutes or until all of the kernels are popped. Pour the popped corn into a large bowl and set aside.
In a heavy-bottomed sauce pan, combine Celebration, water, sugar, salt and corn syrup. Cook over medium heat until the mixture is dark amber—about 300 degrees. Remove from heat, add baking soda and butter and stir for about 30 seconds. Caution: This will produce considerable steam. Use a long whisk and avoid touching the top of the sauce pan.
Working quickly and carefully, pour the caramel sauce over the popped corn. Stir to coat the popped corn evenly. Add the nuts and fruit. Pour the final mixture onto a sheet pan lined with parchment paper or foil wrap that has been sprayed with non-stick vegetable oil spray. Note: Caramel sauce needs to be hot to mix effectively. Be mindful of timing.