Friday Favourites: Toffee Popcorn [Recipe]
Friday night is movie night here in our house. During the week we each tend to do our own thing – reading, listening to music or watching YouTube videos relative to our areas of interest. Come Friday, though, we like to curl up together to watch something a little trashy. Earlier in the evening we treat ourselves to one of our favourite Friday dinners – burgers (which we had today), pizza, fajitas or such like. Then I like to make a big bowl of popcorn to munch in front of the TV. Throw in a few beers and I’m in heaven.
When we go to the cinema there is usually a row over which kind of popcorn we will buy – sweet or salty. Arūnas loves the sweet whereas I prefer the salty. Our local cinema recently started doing a half-and-half box, which I guess is a good solution. But at home I’ve always made salty popcorn. Until recently, that is. A few weeks back we had some friends over for drinks and I made my usual salty popcorn as a snack. One of the girls mentioned that she really liked sweet popcorn and asked how she might make it at home. I hadn’t tried it before so I set off to investigate. And now, a dozen bowls later, I’m bloody addicted to the stuff.
This popcorn is really quick to make – it takes less than 15 minutes from measuring the ingredients to washing the pot. But it is so incredibly scrumptious. I include a tiny pinch of salt which just cuts through the sweetness. The coating is both sticky and crunchy with a rich toffee flavour. For me it’s much nicer than the artificially flavoured stuff at the cinema. Arūnas loves it too, and has been munching on handfuls to boost his sugar levels when he comes in from the gym. It’s an all-round hit.
Serves 2-4 depending on greediness and/or length of movie.
2 Tbsp rapeseed (canola) or sunflower oil
100 g | 3.5 oz popcorn kernels
50 g | 3 Tbsp butter
2 Tbsp honey
100 g | 3.5 oz sugar
1 tsp baking soda
- Heat the oil in a large, heavy based saucepan over a high heat. Place one kernel of corn in the saucepan and cover the saucepan with a lid. When you hear the kernel pop, your oil is hot enough to proceed.
- Without removing the saucepan from the heat, pour in the remain kernels and quickly replace the lid. Give the saucepan a good shake to mix the hot oil through the kernels.
- When you hear the first kernel pop, reduce the heat to the lowest setting. Shake the pot gentle about once per minute to ensure any popped kernels don’t burn.
- The kernels should continue to pop vigorously for about 2-3 minutes. When the pops slow to 2-3 seconds apart, remove the saucepan from the heat. Carefully remove the lid and pour the popcorn into a heatproof bowl.
- Using the same saucepan, melt the butter and honey over a high heat. Add the sugar and salt and stir to fully incorporate the sugar into the honey-butter mix.
- Allow the mixture to bubble over a high heat for about one minute, stirring occasionally. (Unlike some caramel mixtures, the sugar in this mix won’t crystallise if it is stirred.)
NB: Be very careful with the toffee mixture – it is extremely hot.
- When the mix is a rich toffee brown, remove the saucepan from the heat and quickly stir in the baking soda. The baking soda causes the mixture to fluff up and expand, ensuring it covers the popcorn more thinly and evenly.
- Pour the popcorn back into the saucepan and stir for about one minute to coat the popcorn fully with the toffee mixture.
- Pour the toffee popcorn back into the heatproof bowl and allow to cool for at least 5 minutes before eating. (Don’t be tempted to try a piece straight from the pot – it’s extremely hot!)
- The popcorn will stick together as it cools. Break the popcorn into smaller pieces for serving. (I put it in a bag and whack it a few times with a rolling pin.)
“The microwave stuff is quicker and there’s no washing up”.
Yep, it probably is quicker, but it is highly likely that the toffee flavour is artificial and won’t taste anything like the real thing. It also won’t have the crunch that comes with real toffee. As a shortcut you could use plain microwave popcorn or bags of pre-popped corn and just make the toffee. However, you’d still have one pot to clean and it would cost much more (up to 5 times the price), so I’m not sure this shortcut is worth it.
To ensure maximum freshness and crunch I don’t recommend making any elements ahead of time. The popcorn takes about 15 minutes to make, including washing the saucepan, so there’s really no need.
The best preparation you can do is ensure you have all the ingredients in your pantry so that if you fancy a bit of toffee popcorn you know you can whip in up in a few minutes.