In case you missed it, January 19th was National Popcorn Day, and it was celebrated raucously, on Twitter, at least. #NationalPopcornDay
— YouTube (@YouTube) January 19, 2016
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.
After 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. 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!