Carnival Food

Carnival Food

Whether you're throwing a summertime bash at your campsite or are looking for a fun way to spice up the weekend, carnival food is just the ticket. Think of all of your old State Fair favorites like carmel corn, funnel cakes, and corn dogs. Isn't it time you learned to make these great American delicacies for yourself? These recipes make it easy.

Caramel Corn

Nothing tastes as great as homemade caramel corn. Sweet, sticky, and crunchy, it's the perfect snack for a ball game, a night around the campfire, or an all-night ghost-story session.

To save time, pop the popcorn in advance and let it cool. If you're making a large batch, remove the un-popped kernels by putting all the popcorn in a paper bag and shaking it until the old maids fall to the bottom.

3 cups popped popcorn
1 1/4 cups (packed) brown sugar
1/4 cup (1/2 stick) unsalted butter
1/4 cup light corn syrup
2 teaspoons vanilla
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon baking soda

Combine brown sugar, butter, and corn syrup in heavy saucepan. Whisk over medium-low heat until sugar dissolves and butter melts. Attach clip-on candy thermometer to side of pan. Increase heat to high and boil without stirring until thermometer registers 255 degrees F, occasionally brushing down sides of pan with a wet pastry brush. This takes about 4 minutes.

Remove from heat. Stir in vanilla, salt, and baking soda. The mixture will change color and bubble up as the baking soda reacts with the sugar. Carefully pour syrup over popcorn, distributing it well. Stir with a large metal or wooden spoon until the popcorn is covered.

Set the mixture aside to cool. Caramel corn keeps well when stored in an airtight container.

Funnel Cakes

Crisp, light, and sweet funnel cakes are the stuff of happy childhood memories. This recipe makes about 8 cakes. In addition to the ingredients and frying pan, you will also need a funnel.

3 large eggs
2 1/4 cups milk
1/2 teaspoon lemon extract (or other flavoring, if you prefer)
4 cups flour
1 cup brown sugar
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
Oil for frying
Cinnamon sugar or powdered sugar for dusting

Preheat the oil to 375 degrees F. In a mixing bowl, whisk the eggs, milk, and flavoring until well blended. Sift the flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt together. Fold the flour mixture into the egg mixture. Stir until smooth.

Hold your finger over the funnel opening to keep it closed while you fill it with 3/4 cup of the filling. Lower the funnel until your hand is near the oil and carefully remove your finger. Be careful not to burn yourself!

Move the funnel around to make shapes in the hot oil. Fry the cake until golden on both sides. Remove from the oil and drain on paper towels. Dust with cinnamon sugar or powdered sugar.

Corn Dogs

Nothing says carnival like the taste of a corn dog, slathered in ketchup and mustard. Suit this recipe to your family by trying different types of hot dogs. You may find you prefer all beef dogs, spicy dogs, or some type that's unique to your area.

Oil for frying
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
2/3 cup yellow cornmeal
1/3 cup unsifted all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup milk
1 egg, beaten
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 pound of hot dogs
10 wooden skewers

Place oil in a very deep pot or deep-fat fryer. Insert a deep-fat thermometer and heat to 375 degrees F. Place 1/2 cup dredging flour in pie pan or shallow dish and set aside.

Mix cornmeal, 1/3 cup flour, and salt in a 2-cup glass measure. Add milk, egg, and 2 tablespoons vegetable oil. Mix well and set aside.

Run the hot dogs onto the skewers. (If you have small children, be sure to cut the pointed ends off the skewers.) Roll the hot dogs in the flour to coat, then shake off the excess. Dip the dogs, one at a time, in cornmeal batter, then fry in 375 degree F oil until golden brown, about 2 to 3 minutes. Serve warm with ketchup and mustard.