Happy Sundays. I’ve been listening to Macklemore all day and trying out a few recipes. My friend (and maid of honor!) gave me Deb’s smittenkitchen cookbook for Christmas. Since I first flipped through it, I’ve been meaning to try her popcorn cookies.
If any of you read smitten kitchen, you know that Deb has this knack for coming up with recipes that are exactly what you’ve always wanted–only, you didn’t realize it before.
I always liked mixing sweet and salty. At the movie theater, my favorite set-up is a small water, a large popcorn (no extra weird butter) and a box of chocolate covered almonds. These cookies are perfect, though, because the cookie batter is sweet but not overbearing. I tried a later batch with chocolate chips, and, while the chocolate lovers in the house were fans, I think the cookies lost a lot of subtlety as the chocolate had to compete with the popcorn.
You mix an obscene amount of popcorn into the batter, but somehow the ratios work out. The result is this super sweet, tender cookie filled with pieces of popcorn. The texture is a mix of fluffy crunchy soggy that is so unique. In all honesty, the Roomz’s dad’s response went something like this:
“What is the hard thing I’m struggling to chew?”
“Popcorn! Cool, huh?”
“It’s always good to have to work for your food.”
Haha, oh, New Yorkers.
I made fresh popcorn, which Deb also does in the recipe, but if you don’t have the kernels or don’t want to go through that step, I imagine you could use microwave popcorn. That stuff is coated with plastic, though, I’m convinced.
Lastly, a confession: I really love the buttered popcorn flavor Jelly Bellies.
2 Tablespoons vegetable oil
¼ cup popcorn kernels
¼ teaspoon salt
1 Tablespoons salted Irish butter (just do it), melted
4 oz. unsalted butter, softened
1 large egg (I used 2 small that I had from the market, and it was fine)
½ cup packed brown sugar
⅓ cup granulated sugar
½ teaspoon (cough, a glug) vanilla extract
1 ¼ cups all-purpose flour
½ teaspoon baking soda
1. Make sure your butter is softening — I always forget.
2. Make popcorn. This was my, ahem, initiation job at the kitchen in Belfast, making the spicy popcorn bar snacks right before the start of service (or was that alphabetizing the spice shelves?). All the newbs had to do it, I think. Anyway, Deb gives instructions that I’m sure work, but I can’t shake my training. Here’s the way I did it:
Heat oil in large pot over medium-high to high heat. When it looks hot (but not smoking!!) drop a few kernels in. If a lot of bubbles appear around the kernels, the oil is hot enough. If not, wait until the kernel bubbles. When oil is read, pour all the kernels in and cover immediately. Immediately (I mean it) start shaking the pot. The way I do this is to turn the pot so that one handle faces me, then hold a dishtowel with one hand on the lid and one hand on the handle closest to me. Then I slide it rapidly back and forth across the burner. Keep shaking/sliding rapidly until pops are more than 3 seconds apart. Pour immediately into a bowl or the kernels will burn to the bottom of the bottom of the pan. If using an electric burner, you’ll need to be much more vigilant during this process as the popcorn seems more likely to scorch.
Melt butter in microwave. Pour over popcorn and toss to coat. Sprinkle with salt and toss again.
2. Make cookies. Butter/grease cookie sheet. Deb’s directions are to mix the softened butter, both sugars, the egg, and the vanilla all at once. It worked, but next time I’ll try mixing the butter and sugar together to get all creamy and frothy first, then add egg and vanilla. Anyway, mix all of that stuff together.
In a separate bowl, sift flour and baking soda. Add to wet batter slowly until soft dough forms. Pour in popcorm. Like Deb says, this seems “a ridiculous instruction,” but it does work. Just keep folding the dough over the popcorn with a wooden spoon. Eventually it mixes. Then use a Tablespoon measure to scoop out heaping lumps a couple inches apart. Cook 10-12 minutes, until edges are golden brown.
I’m imagining a caramel sauce drizzle in future–thoughts?