Hello and Happy New Year!
I’ve just got back from a gorgeous (but hot!) week in Perth, so it’s now back to work, back to real life but most importantly, back to the kitchen, because the blog has been a little too quiet lately! Today we need to talk about popcorn. The world’s most popular movie snack, delicious covered in butter and salt but also amazing with caramel and a great part of this dessert.
Popcorn in a dessert isn’t a new idea, but it adds a good dose of fun and a hint of quirkiness which I just love. The idea has been stuck in my head since we had an amazing popcorn ice cream at Vasse Felix in Margaret River back in May. It just worked so well, and I’ve been wanting to make a popcorn dessert ever since. This recipe came courtesy of pastry chef Catherine Adams from Rockpool, from the September issue of Gourmet Traveller. The woman is a genius – a popcorn and caramel ice cream sandwich, it couldn’t get any better!
My version isn’t as neat and perfect as the one in the magazine, but it was absolutely delicious nonetheless and went down a treat with everyone who tried it. The caramel popcorn would make a great snack on it’s own, but with the caramel parfait it is sublime. Dark chocolate is the perfect match, and I think with this recipe, a slightly bitter one will work best.
The recipe does take a fair bit of time, but most of it is in waiting for the parfait to freeze. Don’t be impatient, as I was, because the parfait needs to be quite firmly frozen before you attempt to cut it up. The components come together relatively easily and it can be made in advance for an impressive dinner party dessert.
Popcorn and Caramel Ice Cream Sandwiches
Adapted from Gourmet Traveller
• 150g dark chocolate (70% cocoa solids, finely chopped)
• 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
• 40g popping corm
• 60g caster sugar
• 50g butter, coarsely chopped
• 30g honey
• 400ml pouring cream
• 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
• 180g caster sugar
• 6 egg yolks
For candied popcorn, heat a large saucepan over high heat. Add oil, then corn, quickly cover with a lid and shake pan occasionally until all corn has popped (2-4 minutes). Transfer popcorn to a tray and cool to room temperature. Discard unpopped kernels. Combine sugar, butter and honey in a large saucepan over medium high heat, stir until sugar dissolves, bring to the boil and boil until caramel (3-5 minutes). Add popcorn, stir to coat and then divide between two lightly oiled 20x12cm loaf pans. Stand until cool then remove from tins.
For caramel parfait, combine 75ml cream and vanilla extract in a small saucepan over low heat, stir occasionally until warm. Whisk yolks in an electric mixer on medium speed until pale and doubled in volume. Meanwhile, heat a saucepan over high heat until hot and then add sugar. It should start to melt and then colour. Swirl pan occasionally until sugar is dissolved and dark amber in colour. Do not leave unattended as caramel can colour very quickly. Gradually add warm cream (be careful as caramel may bubble up), stirring to combine.
Carefully pour hot caramel into the egg yolks and whisk to combine. Whisk until cool (6-8 minutes). Whisk remaining cream in a bowl to stiff peaks, then fold into yolk mixture in three batches. Pour into a 20x12cm load pan lined with baking paper. Place one sheet of candied popcorn on top (I had to freeze mine for about an hour before I did this). Freeze until firm (3-5 hours), then turn out and press on the remaining sheet of candied popcorn. Return to freezer and freeze until very firm (3-5 hours), then cut into six 3.5cm wide sandwiches and freeze until required.
Melt chocolate in a heatproof bowl. Dip one end of each sandwich into the chocolate, or drizzle chocolate one top. Freeze until ready to serve.