Sunday, January 17, 2010

justification: caramel corn

In NYC (and probably most big cities), there is always a renting vs. owning discussion when it comes to apartments. Paying rent can feel just like throwing away thousands of dollars each month, with no return or "investment." The fact is that most New Yorkers (myself included) can't even think about buying an apartment -- the average price of a 1 bedroom in NYC is $750,000 according to the Corcoran Group real estate brokerage firm. In this town where numbers like $1.5 million and upwards are commonly thrown out in apartment real estate conversations, $750,000 almost seems reasonable. But when you compare it to the "real world" outside Manhattan's 22 square miles, you can buy a 4 BR, 3.5 Bath home (in my hometown Wexford, PA) for $450,000 less than that 1-bedroom apartment in the city.

But we tell ourselves you can't compare apples to oranges. After all, it's New York City we're talking about. So we rent little corners of the city and never think about the $18k/year again.

And without worries like home ownership, we stay a little younger and a little more reckless. Visiting friends tell me that NYC has its own sense of morality - and you see the resulting excessive behavior in its inhabitants. We drink a little more amazing wine at the Gramercy Tavern because a cab is around the corner and we don't have to drive home. We spend a little more on Marc Jacobs bags because everyone has credit card debt so it's OK if we do, too. We live in tiny apartments because they're in the middle of the West Village and it's all about location. And for the 5-10 years we live between the Hudson and the East River we justify our excess because we're determined to live our best life while we're here. It's also why those friends love to come visit :)

But even though out-of-town friends might balk at the way we live, the perks are sometimes worth it. Like this weekend. When my apartment fell apart around me in the form of a leaky ceiling, jammed doorknob and faulty toilet. And though the mess took some time out of my 3-day weekend, instead of calling a handyman, locksmith, and plumber, I just called my landlords. I think I'll stick to renting for now.

After the apartment debaucle the only way to dissipate the bleach smell was to fill the air with something sweet. A friend of mine is having a Golden Globes party tonight so I put together Molly's caramel corn from Orangette to treat the girls to a red carpet-themed sweet.

And don't forget to enter my VERY FIRST giveaway! Deadline is Wednesday for entry so leave a comment to this post to win some sweet things.

Caramel Corn with Cashews
Adapted from Molly (and DamGoodSweet, by David Guas and Raquel Pelzel)

1 package plain microwave popcorn, popped (or about 10 cups)
1 cup packed light brown sugar
1/4-cup light corn syrup
6 tbsp. unsalted butter, melted
1/4 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. baking soda
2 tsp. vanilla extract
1 cup unsalted cashews, roughly chopped

Preheat oven to 250 F. Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper.

Pop the popcorn according to the package instructions. Coat a large mixing bowl with nonstick cooking spray, and dump the popcorn into the bowl, taking care to pick out and discard any unpopped kernels.

In a medium saucepan, whisk together the brown sugar, corn syrup, butter, salt and 2 tbsp. water. Bring to a simmer over medium-high heat. Continue to simmer, whisking often, until the mixture reads 250F on a candy thermometer. Immediately remove the pan from the heat, and whisk in the baking soda and vanilla. Quickly pour the hot caramel over the popcorn. Use a rubber spatula to gently fold the caramel into the popcorn, taking care to distribute it as evenly as you can. Stir in the cashews, and transfer the mixture to the prepared baking sheet.

Bake for 1 hour, stirring and turning the popcorn with a spatula every 20 minutes. Remove from the oven and place on a cooking rack for 20 minutes. Gently break up the popcorn and serve.


chelsea rebecca said...

SO i used to have an amazing caramel corn recipe kinda like this one BUT i lost it and i've been looking for it ever since. but the search just ended!! this looks so good!

Heather said...

this was soooo good. am very happy you posted the recipe. thank you!

Deirdre said...

This recipe sounds so delicious that - justified or not- I am going to undertake my first caramel corn baking expedition... thanks for sharing! And, let's face it, every home (from New York City to Fargo, ND - and anywhere else) smells better with a recipe like this one underway... cool!

Marla said...

Oh Beth... I miss talking to you everyday... xo

Anna said...

this carmel corn looks amazing! i lived in nyc (queens anyway) for a summer, and even though it wasn't manhattan i know exactly what you's just worth it sometimes :)

Beth said...

Chelsea - Definitely give it a shot and let me know how it goes! It was had to package up to take out to the party without eating it all!

Heather - So glad you liked it! And I loved your GG outfit. Such class!

Deirdre - It's so true that a sweet smell can transform almost anything. Sometimes you just need a lil sugar.

Marla - I MISS YOU TOO! Congrats on the blog and I might be in Chicago in April for work, need to plan a trip to the 'burbs to see you and Miss Stella!

Anna - Thanks for enabling my excessive NYC behavior :) Love it!

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