I was recently sharing with fellow foodies my discovery on how to roast garlic on the stove top. Filling a pan with peeled whole garlic cloves which are covered with olive oil and simmered yields two amazing products- the roasted garlic and wonderful garlic oil. Its a fun process to watch as the garlic turns almost translucent in the process and puts out a layer of garlic-sugar-toffee on the bottom of the pan. Excellent stuff to chew on when your pan is being cleaned.
The particular foodies I was sharing this with are very much into the Atkins cult. They brought up roasting the garlic in a sugar syrup instead of roasting their garlic stove top with olive oil. However, no one knew what to do with the resulting garlic sugar syrup. My first thought was popcorn!
A garlic style of kettle corn fits right in with my taste buds likings. Combined with toasted hazelnuts this garlic caramel corn is a fun tasty treat, though my work testing showed that this does benefit from having a flavor label being attached to it. Without the label my co-workers would nibble on it and not be able to figure out what was going on in their mouth.
The sugar roasting process created an amazing garlic product: dehydrated crisp sugary honey-colored garlic bits reminiscent of dehydrated papaya. In addition to being munchable, this garlic corn concotion could serve in the place of candied nuts in a salad. Sprinkled on top of sliced beets and blue cheese would be a fun way to try these morsels!
Garlic Hazelnut Caramel Corn
Preheat your oven to 350F.
First prepare your popcorn. This can be done in the microwave or on top of the stove in a large pot. Pop enough to yield about 4 cups of popcorn to be covered in the caramel, and a little extra for you to nibble on while making your sygar syrup.
Sprinkle 3/4 – 1 cup of hazelnuts that have been broken into halves onto a pie tin. Place them in the oven to toast lightly to a golden color, about 5-10 minutes. I recommend going by sight as opposed to time with this step. When toasted, remove to cool to room temperature.
Sugar syrup: in a sauce pan over medium heat combine:
- one cup of sugar
- 3 Tbs of liquid sweetener: honey, corn syrup, or agave nectar
- 1/4 cup of chopped garlic, not minced (these are 1/4 inch sized pieces)
- with enough water to cover the garlic and sugar completely
Stir to dissolve the sugar, then allow the mixture to cook without touching. Cook till a candy thermometer registers 260F, hard crack stage for sugar. If you find that your garlic browns before you reach this stage, then stop your cooking of the sugar syrup and proceed to the next step.
Remove the sugar solution from the heat and stir in 2 Tbs of butter. Add the toasted hazelnuts and pour this mixture over the popcorn. Stir to coat and scrape out the popcorn mixture onto a baking sheet. Sprinkle the popcorn with salt and ground pepper. Many recipes suggest putting your caramel corn in a warm oven at this point for at least 30 minutes to dry out. Just leaving the popcorn at room temperature also works well.