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Appetizers and Hors d'Oeuvres

Bluestem's Blue Cheese and Spiced Nutty Corn 

Bluestem's Blue Cheese and Spiced Nutty Corn\u00a0

[Photograph: Bonjwing Lee]

As always with our Cook the Book feature, we have five (5) copies of Bluestem: The Cookbook to give away this week.

Stinky, zingy cheeses love sweet stuff—honey, fruit, preserves, and the like but before coming across this recipe for Blue Cheese and Spiced Nutty Corn from Bluestem, we never would have dreamed of giving popcorn a place in the cheese course. This sweet-salty-nutty caramel corn is an incredibly complimentary partner for the biggest, headiest blue cheese you can find.

Of course, if you're not ready to take the blue cheese plunge, it's a pretty great caramel corn recipe on its own, filled with toasty nuts, orange zest, and a cardamom spiked caramel.

Why you should make this: Really, why not serve caramel corn and blue cheese together? It's just so much fun.

Next time we might think about: This recipe inspired us to see what other high-low snacky combos we can break out with our cheese. Époisses and Chex Mix? It just might work.

Adapted from Bluestem by Colby Garrelts and Megan Garrelts. Copyright © 2011. Published by Andrews McMeel. Available wherever books are sold. All Rights Reserved.

Bluestem's Blue Cheese and Spiced Nutty Corn 

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About This Recipe

Yield:Serves 18 to 20 

Active time:30 minutes
Total time:30 minutes
This recipe appears in: Cook the Book: 'Bluestem: The Cookbook'

Ingredients

  • Spiced Nutty Corn:
  • ½ cup almonds, coarsely chopped 
  • ½ cup roasted unsalted peanuts, coarsely chopped 
  • 3 tablespoons vegetable oil 
  • ¾ cup popcorn kernels
  • ¼ cup water 
  • 2 cups sugar 
  • 2 tablespoons heavy cream 
  • Seeds scraped from 1 split vanilla bean 
  • Finely grated zest of ½ orange
  • ¾ teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1½ teaspoons freshly grated nutmeg 
  • ⅛ teaspoon ground cloves
  • ¼ teaspoon ground cardamom 
  • ½ tablespoon kosher salt 
  • 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper 
  •  
  • Great Hill Blue cheese, for serving 

Procedures

  1. 1

    Preheat the oven to 325°F. Spread the almonds and peanuts on a baking sheet and lightly toast them in the oven, stirring them at least once to prevent them from burning, about 6 minutes. Remove the nuts from the oven and set aside to cool.  

  2. 2

    In a large stockpot with a tight-fitting lid, heat the oil over high heat. Add the popcorn kernels and cover the pot. Once the kernels begin to pop, shake the pot constantly until all the corn stops popping. Uncover and remove from the heat. 

  3. 3

    Heat the water and sugar in a large stockpot over high heat until the sugar dissolves and the syrup comes to a boil. Let the syrup cook until it reaches a golden amber color; you’ll notice the bubbles getting bigger and forming more slowly. Watch it carefully, as once the sugar starts to turn yellow it can burn very quickly. Swirl in the cream—the caramel will sputter. Remove from the heat and stir in the vanilla, zest, cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, cardamom, salt, and pepper.

  4. 4

    Using a wooden spoon, stir the popcorn and nuts into the hot caramel until all of it is well coated. It helps to vigorously shake the stockpot up and down and rap it against a sturdy work surface between stirs to get the popcorn at the bottom to move to the top. You’ll want to work as quickly as possible since the caramel will stiffen as it cools, making it harder to work with. 

  5. 5

    Spread the caramel-coated popcorn on a large baking sheet lined with a nonstick baking mat (or parchment paper sprayed with nonstick cooking spray). Allow the popcorn to cool completely before breaking it into bitesize pieces. Store the popcorn in an airtight container. It will keep for up to 1 week. Serve with wedges of the blue cheese, 1 to 2 ounces per person.

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