We’ve been air popping corn in brown paper bags these school holidays. In the microwave. Sprinkled with a little sea salt. A simple,no fuss, easy to prepare but deliciously healthy snack. Of course my teenagers’ overwhelming preference is for a Lolly Gobble Bliss Bomb style of rich buttery caramel corn laden with nuts (recipe here). Utterly addictive, falling squarely in the ‘naughty but nice’ corner. Far more labour intensive involving a microwave, stove top and oven.
Me? I like to take the middle road. Crisp toffee laced popcorn. A little sweet. A little salty. Using just three ingredients; popcorn, sugar and salt, and two appliances; a microwave to pop the corn and a heavy based saucepan to dry caramelise the sugar and salt to golden perfection.
Fast and efficient, this process requires just a little hawk-eyed vigilance. Add a thin even layer of white table sugar to a heavy based saucepan, sprinkle over a little salt and heat over a medium flame. I find it easiest to caramelise no more than 1/3 cup of sugar at a time. After a few moments the sugar will begin to melt, then colour. Swirl the pan every now and then to caramelise the sugar at an even rate. Avoid stirring as this may encourage the sugar to recrystallise. Remove the pan from the heat as soon as the toffee is golden and immediately add the popped corn. Stir well to coat evenly. The reward? Deliciously sweet and salty crisp shell toffee covered popcorn. Not too naughty but very, very nice.
Sweet and Salty Popcorn
3-4 cups of popped corn (see below)
1/3 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon sea salt flakes
PLACE a large heavy based non stick pan or wok over medium heat.
ADD the sugar in an even layer. Sprinkle over salt.
HEAT without stirring until the mixture caramelises, swirling the pan every now and then until all the sugar crystals have dissolved and the mixture is a light golden colour. Remove the pan from heat.
CAREFULLY tip popped corn kernels into the pan. Use a spatula to combine, ensuring all kernels are lightly cool.
ALLOW to cool before breaking into chunks and storing in an airtight container or glass jar.
Microwaved Popcorn Using a Brown Paper Bag
Makes 3-4 cups
1/4 cup popcorn kernels
1/4 teaspoon olive oil
1 brown paper lunch bag
IN A CUP mix together the popcorn kernels and oil.
POUR coated corn into a brown paper lunch bag. Fold the top of bag over twice to seal in the kernels.
PLACE the bag in the microwave, ensuring the bag stands upright on the carousel.Leaning the bag against an empty cup helps keep the bag upright as it cooks and prevent the popcorn from burning.
COOK on medium power for 2 – 2 1/2 minutes, or until you hear pauses of about 2 seconds between pops. Remove from oven.
CAREFULLY open the bag to avoid escaping steam.
POUR popcorn into a bowl, and discard any unpopped kernels of corn.