I remember sitting in the family room as a kid with my mom while she watched Dynasty and Falcon Crest. My Dad would affectionately refer to the evening soaps as “The Jerk Shows”. Hardly age appropriate programming for me but I always looked forward to those nights. Not because I wanted to find out what Krystle and Alexis were up to, but rather, for the big bowl of homemade popcorn my mom would make. Right before the shows would begin, she’d pop-up a batch of kernels on the stove and then drizzle the crunchy bits with melted butter, and finish it with a generous sprinkling of salt. Next she’d flip the cap off of a bottle of Diet Rite and pour it over ice and we’d head to the TV. To this day when I smell diet pop jumping off of ice cubes, and homemade popcorn cooking on the stove, I think of those evenings.
When microwaves hit the mainstream in the 1980’s we were late to get the space age appliance and thankfully, popcorn was always made in a pot on the stove in our house. To this day I still make it the same way because it tastes so much better than out of a microwaved bag. This version came to me as my nephew, James, and I were brainstorming flavor combos.
It’s as if a snicker-doodle cookie and a bowl of salty, buttery popcorn collided to make a snack that captures the spirit of the Holiday season. Hence the name ‘Doodle Pop’.
I’ve started with the basic elements of butter and salt, but in this version, I’ve browned the butter to impart a caramel flavor. Next I added cinnamon to give it a seasonal and nostalgic sweetness. It’s also delicious with half Pumpkin pie spice an half cinnamon. The small amount of sugar has a subtle presence and enhances the nutty flavors and the the natural sweetness of the cinnamon.
If you find popcorn as addictive as I do, consider yourself warned because this version may send you into rehab. I hunt through the bowl looking for the bites with butter and cinnamon hidden in the caves of the kernel. The flavor is complex and yet I’m still able to taste each ingredient. First a subtle sweetness the cinnamon and sugar, and then the caramelized butter peeks through, and as I crunch the kernel, the satisfying sea salt makes my mouth water and I dive into the bowl for another piece.
It’s a delicious harmony of sweet and savory flavors with the addictive crunch we know and love. You will dive into this bowl like jumping into a pile of autumn leaves.
TIP! Keep popcorn kernels in your pantry and you’ll be able to make a delicious homemade snack at a moments notice. Whether you in-laws stop by for a martini or you’re getting ready to binge watch Game of Thrones in your jammies, popcorn always works. Get creative with the seasoning too and add your flavors and herbs.
TECHNIQUE– How to brown butter
Whether it’s a sweet or savory dish, browning the butter is a great way to add flavor complexity. Try it drizzled over sauteed veggies or use it in you next batch of chocolate chip cookies. Your taste buds will thank you.
- Start by using a light colored pan as a dark pan won’t allow you to see the color change.
- Slice the butter into tablespoon size pieces add melt it over medium heat.
- Swirl the butter as it melts and don’t walk away because as the bubbling subsides, the color will quickly change to a golden brown.
- Continue to swirl and as the color turns golden and the air is filled with the nutty and caramel aroma, remove it from the heat. At this point either add it to the recipe, or transfer to a bowl to stop the cooking.
It takes about 4 – 5 minutes for the butter to brown in this recipe.
I’ll bet you already have most of the ingredients in your pantry. Pop some of this up for an light appetizer on Thanksgiving Day and your guests can nibble on it while the turkey bakes. Or better yet, after all of your company heads back home and you have some time to relax, make a batch and cozy up to the fire with a glass of mulled wine or warm cider and a full Netflix queue.
Mise en place
- 1 large stove top pan with lid (about 6 quart size). Make sure it is light enough to shake/toss the kernels.
- 1 small light bottom colored pan for browning the butter. A dark pan won’t work b/c you need to see the color of the butter. A stainless steel or white enamel pan works well.
- 2 Tablespoons canola or grape seed oil
- 1/2 cup pop corn kernels
- 4 Tablespoons unsalted butter
- 1 teaspoon cinnamon
- 1 teaspoon fine salt
- 4 teaspoons sugar
- Mix the cinnamon, sugar and salt and set aside.
- Add the oil to the large pan and then pour the kernels in. Cover and turn the burner to Medium to Medium-High
- You will start to hear kernels pop after about 1 minute in. About every 30 seconds, use pot-holders and grab the lid and handles shaking the kernels to make sure they don’t burn.
- Keep shaking the pot about every 30 seconds until the popping stops.
- Remove from the heat and take the lid off to let the steam escape.
- Brown the butter, set aside. See the ‘Technique’ section above for instructions
- Pour the browned butter over the kernels and place the lid back on. Shake vigorously.
- remove the lid and sprinkle the cinnamon mixture over the popcorn. Place the lid back on and shake vigorously again.
- Pour into a few bowls and set them out for all to enjoy!