You know, I usually make peppermint brownies for our teachers, but there are like 83 different steps and 3 kinds of icings involved with those, and so, meh, I'm kind of over it. On an effort level, I'm looking for something that's on par with slice-and-bake cookies--because I can make that crap look gourmet with a little snowflake-patterned cellophane, maybe a little felt bird ornament.
So it's POPCORN, right? You melt some stuff and throw it on there, blah, blah, blah. Slice and bake, baby, slice and bake. And that would be all fine and dandy, if popcorn wasn't the gremlin of the food world. Because that sh#! was everywhere, and let me just tell you, there is NO EASY WAY to simultaneously mix 37 cups of it with almond bark that doesn't involve my hands and the floor and the sink and some jelly roll pans and every freaking bowl in the kitchen.
And then a few days passed and I decided to make caramel corn for the kid's teachers. Because there were like, four ingredients and none of them required me to unwrap seven boxes of candy canes and beat them into a fine, symmetrical powder (bonus). Same issue with these bastards multiplying like gremlins, but the actual mixing of the sauce and the popcorn (split amongst TWO large pots) went surprisingly smoothly. The key to making GREAT caramel corn, however, is baking? roasting? it for an hour at low heat. And stirring it. EVERY 15 MINUTES.
Sounds like a bitchy move, popcorn.
I read on a blog that you could up the temperature for a shorter period of time, and stir it more often--and let me just tell you that this resulted in me burning the hell out of the gremlins. I tried to save the unburnt top layer, but melted caramel DRIPS, and so I ended up with 85 cups of burnt caramel popcorn with a burnt caramel glaze, distributed in EVERY bowl in my kitchen. I tasted it 53 times, and it was still, always (and terribly) burnt.
This, of course, resulted in me having to REMAKE the caramel corn during the dinner hour; but first I had to throw away the burnt batch, for the sake of counter space and bowl availability, and that gave me the shakes, because I HATE to throw anything away, even if it's burnt. This was tricky, because you may remember that I don't take the garbage out (ever), and by the time I threw the burnt popcorn out, the trash was already 2 inches above the rim, and Little J's half-eaten yogurt was flowing down the side. This is *probably* how popcorn ended up MOOSHED all over our small kitchen floor, and why my socks are STILL sticky as I type this. I was supposed to bake/stir it for 60 minutes, but I lost my will to live somewhere around minute 34, and so I just gave up. And you know what? It's still crunchy and gooooooooood. You hear that popcorn, I WIN.
Now they are all packaged up in cellophane bags, with a small sampling of peppermint brownies (can't. help. it.), and a felt bird ornament. Sticky, messy, felt-adorned perfection. And bonus! Turns out tomorrow is a full school day, and NOT a half-day with free unicorn rides, like I imagined. Bummer about the unicorn, though.