I am not a very crafty person, but as I mentioned last week, I love a good theme. So I did spend some time browsing Pinterest while I was getting ready for the engagement party we were hosting. And I fell in love with these “he popped the question,” popcorn party favours. I think part of my affinity to them was that I love making flavoured popcorn…and not just your average caramel corn.
Flavoured popcorn is an awesome party food. It is simple to make, can be made ahead and can be sweet or savoury. I almost always make a bowl or two of flavoured popcorn for my cocktails parties. I use them as “fillers.” Fillers are those extra bites to make sure that you have enough food even if you a have a few very hungry guests or one of your planned menu items just doesn’t work out…like when you are enjoying a glass of champagne and good conversation so much that accidently forget those bacon-wrapped dates that are warming up in the oven…not that ever happened to me!!
For the engagement party I made three different flavours: chocolate coconut, cinnamon toast and dukkha-spiced popcorn. Each flavour started with a batch of basic popcorn which is 2 tbsp of canola oil and ½ cup of popcorn kernels. You can use any oil you want as long as it has a high smoke point. For the coconut-chocolate popcorn, I used coconut oil to emphasize that coconut flavour. Make sure your popcorn kernels are fresh and haven’t been sitting in your cupboard for a couple years! Fresh kernels will pop better and produce more popcorn. Use a large heavy-bottomed pot. Add the oil and a couple of kernels of popcorn, cover the pot and place over medium-high heat. Once you hear those kernels pop, add the rest of the popcorn, cover the pot leaving a small vent for steam to escape (opposite of where you are) and shake the pot as the popcorn pops. Once the pops slow to about 5 seconds between pops, your popcorn should be ready. I find this takes about 3 or 4 minutes.
Here is how I made the cinnamon-toast popcorn.
yields about 10 cups
1 batch basic popcorn (½ cup kernels popped in 2 tbsp of canola oil)
2 tbsp sugar
1 ½ tsp cinnamon
¼ tsp cardamom
70 g (5 tbsp) unsalted butter
20 g (2 ½ tbsp) dry skim milk powder
Combine the sugar, cinnamon, cardamom, and ¾ tsp kosher salt in a small bowl and set aside.
Add butter to popcorn pot over medium heat. Once it begins to melt, whisk in dry milk powder. Continue to whisk until butter completely melts and mixture becomes foamy. Continue to cook until mixture browns and smells like toasted nuts.
Pour butter mixture onto popcorn, making sure to add all the brown bits from the bottom of the pan. Add sugar and spice mixture and toss well. Season with additional kosher salt.
*adapted from Fine Cooking Magazine Issue 138