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Recipes that ‘Pop’

Two ways to satisfy the popcorn-lover in you

Published: Tuesday, Oct. 30, 2012 5:00 p.m. CDT • Updated: Wednesday, Oct. 31, 2012 9:12 a.m. CDT

(Continued from Page 2)

Sweet and salty, crunchy and nutty. These recipes for popcorn really epitomize all that you might want in a snack.

Growing up, we ate a lot of popcorn in my family.  It was our “go-to” snack before bed or when we had friends over. It is affordable, and everyone seems to like it.

I can remember my dad shaking that popcorn kettle over the stove, back and forth. Even then, I would think, “there’s got to be an easier way to make popcorn.”

When I was a teenager, we got a popcorn popper.  This is super convenient until you accidentally tip it over and the oil spills everywhere!  Next came the air popper, but my dad contended this was just not as good.

Enter microwave popcorn. Most kids don’t even remember eating popcorn any other way. Microwave popcorn is super convenient and quick. Just throw the bag away when you are done. 

Of course, sometimes we want to take popcorn to another level. It is such a versatile food that the possibilities are limitless.

PEANUTTY POPCORN is simple to make. If you like peanut butter, you will love this recipe. The peanuts do not exactly stick to the popcorn, but you can definitely taste them. 

When baking the popcorn on low heat, do not leave in the oven for more than 20 minutes. The popcorn will become too dark and take on a burnt flavor, even though it is not burnt.

I made this for a friend’s party and everybody that attended needed the recipe.

POPCORN BRITTLE is amazing. It tastes like kettle corn in a solid form. It also reminds me of a popcorn ball. It has a similar taste ... if I am remembering correctly. The advantage of the Brittle over a popcorn ball is that when you bite into it, you do not get popcorn crumbs all over.

This recipe is more time consuming than the Peanutty Popcorn, but definitely delicious.

I thought that I could make this recipe without a candy thermometer. Unfortunately, that is one thing you really need.

I had a candy thermometer that did not have a clip on it, so I was stuck standing there holding it. If you are buying one, get one with a clip attachment. You will make it a lot easier on yourself.

There really is no way to tell how hot the mixture is without a thermometer. It is very hot, though, so you will want to be careful not to spill any of the mixture on yourself. I got a little bit on my finger and had a blister develop immediately.

I have decided to put together a first-aid kit for my kitchen. It will have Band-Aids and something for burns, etc. This is long overdue.

Hard crack and soft crack stages are terms used in making candy. It is also printed on the candy thermometer, for those of us who need a little extra instruction.

If you are wondering what rushed popcorn is, it is just popcorn that has been chopped up.

The first heating step is supposed to take 10 to 15 minutes — it took me 18 minutes.  Now you see why you need the thermometer?

Two people working on this is best, especially when you need to get it spread out in two pans.

Don’t let yourself be deterred from making this because you are alone.  It is very doable by yourself, too. It is just a process that takes a little speed on your part.

I am thinking of making this for Christmas also; maybe with a little bit of broken starlight mints added right before the last step.

One thing you may want to do after making these recipes is to hide them if you are not going to eat them right away. If you leave them out, you are guaranteed that they will be eaten — maybe even by you.

Enjoy making these popcorn recipes.

And remember … a good cook always cleans up!

———

PEANUTTY POPCORN

• 1/4 cup melted butter or margarine

• 1/4 cup creamy peanut butter

•  1/3-cup honey

• 1 cup crushed peanuts

• 2 bags microwave popcorn – 16 cups

Melt butter in a saucepan and add peanut butter and honey. Stir well. Sprinkle peanuts over popped corn and pour sauce over all. Toss until well coated. Distribute mixture evenly on two or three large cookie sheets. Bake for 20 minutes at 250 degrees. The baking makes the popcorn tender and takes away the stickiness. Store in tightly covered container.

———

POPCORN BRITTLE

• 14 cups freshly popped popcorn made from 2 bags of microwave popcorn

• 2 cups sugar

• 1-cup light corn syrup

• 1-cup water

• 1 tsp. salt

• 1 TB unsalted butter, plus additional for greasing

• 1 TB unsulfured molasses

• 1 tsp. vanilla extract

Lightly butter 2 large (15x11 inch) baking sheets and a rubber spatula or a wooden spoon.

Work in batches, place 2 cups popcorn in food processor. Pulse until crushed into small pieces. 

Do not over process.  Repeat with remaining popcorn.

Stir sugar, corn syrup, water and salt in a medium saucepan over medium heat until sugar dissolves and mixture is simmering. 

Clip a candy thermometer to the inside of the pan and continue heating undisturbed until temperature reaches 270F (about 10 to 15 minutes). Mixture will boil vigorously.

Stir in butter, molasses and vanilla.  Continue heating until temperature reaches 290F (between soft- and hard-crack stages).

Remove pan from heat; stir in rushed popcorn. Working quickly, pour mixture over prepared sheets. 

Using the buttered rubber spatula, press evenly to flatten like peanut brittle. Cool to room temperature on a wire rack and break into chunks.

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