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National Popcorn Day #weekendcooking @BethFishReads

In case you missed it, January 19th was National Popcorn Day, and it was celebrated raucously, on Twitter, at least. #NationalPopcornDay

For me, every day is Popcorn Day, but I did want to mark this special occasion for Weekend Cooking, so I made caramel popcorn on Tuesday to celebrate.

Up until now, the best caramel corn I’ve had was in Chicago at that famous popcorn place that Oprah Winfrey told people about on her show. You can buy a blended bag of their caramel popcorn and cheese popcorn that was delicious! Not getting out to Chicago very often and since caramel corn is fattening, anyway, I mostly make do with plain, salted popcorn. (Yes, pretty much daily; it’s a bad habit that I will probably never break until my teeth give out.)


Ever since I got the cookbook Artisanal Gluten-Free Cooking, I have been eyeing the recipe for Sticky Caramel Popcorn and wanting to try it, maybe for around Thanksgiving when the family was around to help me eat it. But it wasn’t until I discovered (while searching on Amazon for something completely different) that there is such a thing as mushroom popcorn! Mushroom popcorn is specially designed to be better for caramel corn, kettle corn, etc. (This is why the gourmet stuff you buy tends to be better than the stuff you try to make at home.)

Mushroom popcorn pops up as almost all the big round puffy shapes, instead of what the popcorn people call butterfly flakes.

picture of popped mushroom popcorn kernel with text saying large, round, puffy ball for holding toppings, glazes, and chocolateAfter expressing a desire to try mushroom popcorn immediately, I received a pound bag of Just Poppin Mushroom Popcorn for my birthday in October! (It costs probably three or four times what my regular popcorn costs.) But Thanksgiving and Christmas both went by with so much food and so many other recipes to try, that I never had a chance to try the Sticky Caramel Popcorn recipe until this month.

I had had a feeling that this recipe might be identical to the popcorn ball recipe from my childhood that had taken on mythical proportions in my mind after I had never been able to find the cookbook in my parents’ house as an adult, even though they rarely get rid of anything! I remembered that the recipe called for corn syrup, butter, and brown sugar, and it made these delicious, sticky popcorn balls.

One of my sisters also remembered those popcorn balls fondly when I brought them up earlier this fall, and she whipped out her phone and found a recipe online that we thought might be it. But that recipe called for sweetened condensed milk and I don’t remember that being one of the ingredients in the recipe we used when we were kids.

The more I thought about it, the more I thought the Artisanal Gluten-Free Cooking recipe actually was THE recipe. It has the butter, the brown sugar, the popcorn, the salt, the vanilla extract, and the baking soda – all of which seemed right. The cookbook gave two options for finishing off the recipe: either leavie the caramel corn sticky or bake it in a low-temperature oven until it’s crisp and not gooey.

I tried some sticky before baking the rest.

When I did, it was a Proustian-madeleine experience, transporting me back to the kitchen of my youth, where I was buttering my hands to form the sticky popcorn into balls while the mixture was still hot enough to be soft and gooey.

This recipe is dangerous! National Popcorn Day was my second time making it, and my husband and I ate almost all of it both times in just a few days. I was hoping the authors had it on their blog, No Gluten No Problem, so I could share the link, but they don’t.cover image of Artisanal Gluten-Free Cooking Artisanal Gluten-Free Cooking is a great cookbook for families with just one gluten-free eater, because it’s full of “regular” recipes that you can serve to everyone – G/F or not. I would say their Sticky Caramel Popcorn recipe is worth the price of the cookbook, easily, but this recipe from All Recipes looks similar, at a quick glance:

It’s possible, though, that sweetened condensed milk actually was an ingredient in the recipe we used to use, back in the day, so I guess a taste test is called for. I should make a batch of each and get my two sisters together, so the three of us can come to a definite conclusion.

Have you ever tried to find a lost recipe from your childhood? Have you ever heard of mushroom popcorn before? Did you celebrate National Popcorn Day too?

Happy Weekend Cooking!

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16 thoughts on “National Popcorn Day #weekendcooking @BethFishReads”

  1. I could popcorn every day. I’m kind of addicted. I haven’t made caramel corn in ages — like decades. And I don’t remember the recipe. I’ve never heard of mushroom popcorn, so I’ll have to investigate.

    And, yeah, that tracking down a childhood recipe can be frustrating.

    1. The first time I popped the mushroom popcorn, I was disappointed in how many unpopped kernels there were, and my husband said, “Did you read the directions?” Of course, I hadn’t, so I had better success after following the company’s tips and did stuff I usually don’t bother with (preheat the oil, etc.)

  2. Popcorn is the only after-supper treat I allow myself, whenever my husband is willing to fix it! I never heard of mushroom popcorn — good to know that’s why commercial popcorn is often completely different from what we have at home.

    Cool that you’ve got a lead on your childhood version of caramel corn.

    I’ve got my mother’s last cookbook that she made by cutting out all of her recipes and putting them in one binder. I have managed to re-create some favorites for myself and my brother.

    No one in my large extended family, though, can make grandmother’s cookies that were always in her cookie jar. There are recipes floating about but every one agrees that she had some secret that she never shared. Either that or, as you say, the memory just outweighs the reality.

    1. The family recipes are nice to have, aren’t they? I’ve started writing notes with dates, so the cookbooks and recipes will be more personalized, in case any of the family wants to inherit them!

    1. My next project is to learn to make the homemade cheese popcorn and blend the two together. The caramel corn alone is very sweet and rich, like having penuche with your popcorn…

  3. Whoa, this is taking popcorn to a whole new level! I’ve never heard of mushroom popcorn, but it sounds awesome. To be honest, I’m simply a movie theater or Orville Redenbacher popcorn person myself.

  4. I have never heard of mushroom popcorn! Though now that you mention it, there does seem to be a difference between regular popcorn and the gourmet varieties. I LOVE caramel corn but I can see how having the recipe would be dangerous!

    I have a number of recipes from my grandma for different candies that she made back in the day, but I’m too intimidated by them to actually try them.

  5. Never knew about mushroom popcorn. Love caramel corn. My aunt used to make great popcorn balls for the holidays. Helped her a few times and remember the buttery hands and the stickiness. Nice memory.

    Just made some popcorn yesterday to tide me over during the big snowstorm :).

  6. Happy you succeeded in your righteous quest for the perfect caramel popcorn! I do enjoy popcorn occasionally, with coconut oil, then some salt and nutritional yeast tossed in.

  7. I guess I am with the majority, I never heard of mushroom popcorn. I like cheese popcorn and regular popped too. It’s a great snack for me.

    Honestly, I didn’t know there was a day devoted to honoring popcorn!

  8. I love popcorn and take spurts of eating it every night. I got that from my mom who had it every night while watching tv.

    This sounds really good. I may give it a try since I’ve never made anything like it.

  9. I remember making popcorn balls at my friend’s house at Halloween every year because they handed them out to the trick-or-treaters (back when you could hand out homemade treats). We wrapped them in purple and orange cellophane. I do not remember using condensed milk for popcorn balls, either. This recipe sounds stellar! I pinned it. No, I had never heard of mushroom popcorn. Thanks for the heads up! I definitely want to try some. 🙂

    1. Yes, we made them for Halloween, too, but I don’t know if we ever gave any of them away! My birthday is the day before Halloween, so I probably had them at my slumber parties. The mushroom popcorn popped up great, once I read the directions!

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