Crunchy, Sweet, Salty, Nutty, Spicy Popcorn!

P O P C O R N !

Having been away for a few weeks I had a sort through my kitchen to refresh my memory as to what supplies I had.  Lots of good stuff including a couple of bags of microwavable popcorn so I did the decent thing (what diet?) and made a batch of my favourite thing ever popcorn recipe ...

Nutty Popcorn Crunch

60g popped popcorn
180g light brown sugar
120g butter
90g honey
1/2 tsp bicarbonate of soda
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
100g nuts

~   Preheat oven to 300°F/150ºC/130ºC fan/gas 2.
~   Lightly grease a roasting pan or similar, add the popcorn and nuts and toss together.
~   Stir together the sugar, butter and honey over medium heat till the sugar has dissolved then cook stirring occasionally for five minutes.
~   Remove from the heat, stir in the vanilla and bicarbonate of soda (the mixture will woosh up) and immediately pour over the popcorn.
~   Stir all together and bake for 20 minutes stirring halfway through.
~   Turn out onto a piece of lightly buttered greaseproof paper or parchment.
~   Cool, break into manageable pieces and store in an airtight container.

Use whatever nuts your fancy but I like it best of all made with salted cashews and a pinch of chilli flakes.

Popcorn is quite fashionable at the moment.  I think fashions in food (or anything, really) are a strange concept but at least this one suits the “current financial climate”; corn for popping is Not Very Expensive, A Little goes a Very Long Way and it’s even Not Bad for You if you don’t add anything to it.  I like adding things to it. 

You can use ready popped corn (or leftovers), microwaveable popcorn or pop some kernels in a pan. The advantages of the first two are obvious, the advantage of the last method is that you can use different fats to pop the corn such as bacon fat or coconut oil, if you want to use butter then clarify it first or it might burn. *** see below.


As you can see I tend to use microwaveable popcorn – a 90g bag makes enough I’d say, for 4-6 people – especially if I muck about with it!  Here are some simple ways to do this ...

Savoury Popcorn Ideas ...

Add spices or herbs or seasonings of your choice, simply crunchy sea salt is good or try ...

~   finely grated lime zest and a little chilli powder to taste, plus salt of course.
~   lemon zest, freshly ground black pepper (and parsley if poss).
~   garlic salt freshly grated Parmesan, add some fresh basil too if you feel like it.
~   bacon salt - bacon is also very fashionable, isn’t it!

Sweet Popcorn Ideas ...

~   Flavoured sugars – e.g. vanilla, cinnamon or real maple sugar.
~   Drizzle popcorn with melted chocolate, toss together and then chill till the chocolate has set then break into pieces no larger than your mouth.  Good additions would be dried fruit, nuts, seeds, or how about some marshmallows and call it rocky road corn.
~   Toast a handful of sesame seeds in a dry pan over medium heat for a few minutes till slightly fragrant and darker and toss with the warm popcorn together with soft brown sugar and a little crunchy sea salt.

Popcorn Serving Suggestions ...

~   I used to serve corn chowder topped with popcorn which I had tossed in hot chilli butter.
~   Make the popcorn pretty by adding a drip or two of appropriate food colouring and or toss with some sprinkles.
~   Form into bars, balls or lollipops e.g. ...

Peanut Butter Popcorn Balls or Bars

1 tbsp honey
1 tbsp light brown sugar
1 tbsp peanut butter (preferably crunchy)
a drop or two of vanilla extract
20g (possibly leftover) popcorn

~   Melt together the honey, sugar and peanut butter with a drop of vanilla extract. 
~   Stir in the popcorn and when cool enough to handle, press into a greased tray or roll into balls.
~   If you’ve taken the tray option allow to set then cut into bars.
Get the gist?  Other sticky combos work well too.

~   Dip such bars, balls or lollipops into melted chocolate.

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*** How to Clarify Butter

~   Dice butter into a saucepan.
~   Melt gently over medium heat skimming off all the froth that rises to the surface.
~   Remove from the heat and allow to sit for a couple of minutes.
~   Pour the clear yellow liquid, which is the part you want, into a bowl.
~   Discard the milky residue OR even better (I’m a bugger for leftovers, me!) add it to soups and casseroles for a bit of buttery flavour.

Clarified butter keeps very well in the fridge and is useful for more than popcorn. As it is free or impurities it can be heated to a higher heat than unclarified so is great for adding buttery taste when pan frying. It is also crucial when making hollandaise sauce and is great as a  dip for lobster or artichokes. 

See here for browned butter, which is slightly related to clarified butter, useful and very tasty.



Sue said...

Haha ... I didn't read the recipe properly first time round and had visions of sticky corn popping all over the inside of the oven.

I know now!!

Sounds (and looks) delicious, I'll give this one a go for sure.

KC the Kitchen Chopper said...

I love recipes that get people to step away from the bottle or the box. Thanks for sharing at #theWeekendSocial. Pinned! :)