A Pile of Happy Butterscotch Popcorn

by Caterina Borg, Good Food Gourmet on March 25, 2012

A lazy day on the weekend calls for serious reinforcements, especially when there are a couple of great movies on that are simply begging for your attention. So, what better snack to munch on than good old homemade popcorn? And by that I don’t mean buying those self contained units of Jiffy popcorn or the prepackaged bags that you pop in the microwave. We don’t need any unnecessary chemicals in our life. Buy yourself a bag of plain kernels (any one will do) and pop them yourself, then coat them with some heavenly butterscotch toffee.

The toffee is a cinch to do and you don’t even need a thermometer…

First pop the corn and either pour them out onto a lightly greased piece of parchment or into a lightly greased stainless steel bowl to await the toffee. Make the toffee and either drizzle the caramel over it or pour it over the popcorn in the bowl and toss quickly. Once it is evenly coated, pour it out onto a lightly greased marble or the parchment paper that I mentioned above. Flatten it out and separate it into pieces, allow it to cool completely and enjoy.

Popping the popcorn
1 cup of popcorn kernels
¼ cup of vegetable oil

This is not difficult to do but you will need a large pot (8-10 qt capacity) with its own lid. Add the oil and the corn and stir well until all the kernels are coated with oil. Turn the heat onto high and the oil will begin to sizzle…continue stirring the corn and then you will see them start to pop. At this point, cover them immediately with the lid and gently shake the pot. You will hear more of the kernels popping like rapid fire. After about a minute, turn the heat down to medium, continue to shake the pot and allow the rest of the kernels to pop. This will help with keeping the kernels from sticking to the bottom and burning. Once the popping has stopped remove from the heat and either pour into the lightly greased bowl or out onto the parchment sheet to await the caramel…whatever is easiest for you.  This quantity of popcorn will come up to the top of this large pot, so it is a lot of popcorn.

Next, decide which, if any, add-ins you would like to toss in. For this quantity, you will need about 3 cups total of extra add-ins.

Other add-ins/toppings:
Melted non tempering chocolate, should not be too hot
Roasted peanuts, almonds, pistachios or cashews (about 2 cups total, any combo)
Chocolate covered raisins (1 cup)

Butterscotch Toffee
1 ½ stick salted butter
1 cup granulated sugar
½ cup corn syrup
½ cup heavy cream
1 tablespoon vanilla (add into cream)
1 teaspoon Kosher salt or gourmet salt of your choice (add ½ teaspoon into cream and the other half over the caramel when tossing)**add more if you like
¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper *optional (add into cream)

Add the butter, sugar and corn syrup to a medium sized stock pot and let it begin to melt over medium to high heat. Use ONLY a clean wooden spoon to stir this mixture, anything else will cause crystallization.

After about 5 minutes the mixture will begin to take on some color, keep an eye on it at this point but continue to stir it well. After another few minutes, it is becoming even more golden in color, so at this point add in the cream with the vanilla and the cayenne pepper if you are using it.

Continue to stir and if you are using a thermometer, cook this to the hard crack stage, but if you are just eye balling it like I do, you need to test a little of the caramel at a time as it continues to cook. As you continue to stir, take a little of the caramel out and allow it to cool to check firmness by dipping into a glass of cold water. It will happen fairly quickly, so make sure to keep an eye on it.

Once it has reached the hard crack stage remove from the heat and either drizzle it over the popcorn that has been laid out onto the parchment paper or pour it over the popcorn in your slightly greased bowl and toss. Next, quickly toss in any add-ins you may want so that it has a chance to stick to the caramel along with the extra salt. Pour this out onto a greased marble or greased parchment paper and flatten, then begin separating the covered corn into bite sized chunks that will be easy to pick up and eat. Allow this to cool completely. Once cool, you can also drizzle on some non tempering chocolate for an even more decadent experience


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