Microwave popcorn is OK. But you can make Movie theater-style popcorn at home that’s even better. Popcorn poppers are very easy to find secondhand. West Bend makes great air poppers. Their older model, Poppery II (found secondhand), can double as a coffee-bean roaster, too. But if you want a recommendation, I’d buy a Whirley Pop stovetop popper ($20+ or so new). You’ll love the taste, every kernel pops, it’s long-lasting and the experience is just more fun.
Coconut oil is what the theaters use, and it’s so good! While you can use table salt on your popcorn, I recommend using Flavacol season salt. Mortons has a popcorn salt that works well, too.
Here’s the ingredient increments that I use:
1/2 cup kernels
2 tablespoons coconut oil
1/2 teaspoon Flavacol
There are so many popcorn recipes out there. I’ve compiled a few kernels of nostalgia to remind you of childhood and included other tasty additions, as well.
12 cups popped popcorn
1 (14 oz.) can Eagle Brand® Sweetened Condensed Milk
1 (3 oz.) package cherry or other flavored gelatin
HEAT oven to 300ºF. Line large shallow roasting pan with heavy foil, extending foil over edges of pan. Butter foil.
REMOVE all unpopped popcorn. Pour popcorn into prepared pan. Keep warm in oven.
COMBINE sweetened condensed milk and dry gelatin in medium saucepan. Heat and stir over low heat until mixture is slightly thickened and bubbly, 4 to 5 minutes.
POUR mixture over popcorn. Stir gently to coat using a long-handled wooden spoon. Bake 20 minutes, stirring every 5 minutes. Carefully turn out onto large piece of lightly buttered foil. Cool. Break into pieces or clusters.
Caramel Popcorn Balls
8 cups popped corn
¾ cup brown sugar, firmly packed
¾ cup white sugar
½ cup light corn syrup
½ cup water
1 teaspoon white vinegar
¼ teaspoon salt
¾ cup butter
Measure 8 cups popped corn into a large bowl or pan. Sort out any un-popped corn and discard.
Combine brown sugar, white sugar, light corn syrup, cup water, white vinegar, and salt in a 2-quart saucepan.
Heat to boiling over medium-high heat, stirring frequently. Cook constantly to 260 degrees on candy thermometer (or hard ball stage).
Reduce heat to low; stir in butter until melted. Pour syrup in thin stream over popped corn, stirring until corn is well-coated.
Cool slightly. Butter hands, and shape mixture into 3-inch balls and place on waxed paper.
You must squeeze the popcorn tightly into balls, otherwise the balls may have a tendency to fall apart before they dry.
You may speed up the process of getting the popcorn balls to set up by placing them in the refrigerator.
Store in an airtight container, or wrap individually with plastic wrap.
Marshmallow Popcorn Balls
Cherry Garcia Popcorn
3 tablespoons vegetable oil
1/2 cup popcorn kernels
1 cup sugar
1/3 cup whole milk
1 tablespoon light corn syrup
1/2 teaspoon cherry flavoring
4-5 drops pink food coloring
1/4 cup chocolate, melted
1/2 cup chocolate chunks
1/4 cup glacé cherries, diced
Salt, to taste
Into a stockpot set on the stovetop over medium-high heat, add vegetable oil and 2 kernels of corn, and cover.
Once the kernels pop, remove the lid and pour in the remaining kernels.
Cover and shake the pot occasionally, carefully holding the lid until the popping sound stops. This should take about 5 minutes.
Remove pot from heat, and transfer popcorn into a large mixing bowl to cool.
Lay wax paper on a cookie sheet, and spray lightly with cooking spray.
Into a saucepan, set on the stovetop over medium heat, combine sugar, milk, corn syrup, and salt.
Bring mixture to a boil, stirring occasionally, and then reduce heat slightly so the mixture simmers.
Continue to cook for about 4-6 minutes until you’ve reached a soft ball stage or 235°F on a candy thermometer.
Remove from heat, and stir in flavoring and food coloring.
Pour the candy over your popcorn, and toss to combine. Spread the coated popcorn out on wax paper, separating it as much as you can.
Drizzle with melted chocolate. Quickly sprinkle with chocolate chunks and glacé cherries. Salt to taste. Let caramelized popcorn and chocolate set.
Break up into bite-size chunks and enjoy!
Peanut Butter and Jelly Popcorn
Kids usually enjoy making it. It’s fun to make for birthday parties or any holiday, and it’s been a big hit when I’ve taken it in for work functions — everyone wants the recipe. (More for the novelty than the actual taste, I think.)
4 quarts popped white corn, plain (I use air-popped, but you can use store-bought popped corn as well)
1 stick margarine
1/2 cup oil
1 16-ounce bag small marshmallows
1 10-ounce package candy-coated chocolates, such as M&M’s
1/2 cup peanuts
1 cup of thin pretzel sticks broken in half, optional
Melt margarine, oil and marshmallows. Pour mixture over popped corn. Add candy-coated chocolates, peanuts and pretzels. Mix well with hands. Pour into well-greased bundt pan.
Let it set for at least 2-3 hours, then turn out onto plate.
For Halloween, you can add candy corns. Can use seasonal M&M’s for holidays. Or make in mini muffin cups for individual servings.