04 April 2019

Popcorn and Caramel Corn and Clarified Butter

Perfect Popcorn - Crunchy Caramel Corn - Popped with Clarified Butter! (this photo - Caramel Corn) / www.delightfulrepast.com

Five years ago I wrote about conquering my culinary nemesis, Popcorn. After trying all the helpful hints readers had given me a couple years before in their comments on my initial post, Popcorn - My Culinary Nemesis, I put together a method that works perfectly for me every time. 

I’m still using the same pan, a lightweight but heavy-bottomed stainless steel pan, the perfect stovetop popcorn pan, one I can actually lift and shake several times during the popping rather than just scraping it back and forth on the stove. Other lessons learned are in the directions below. 

Step 2 (below) is the single most important tip that turned me into a popcorn master! Those 30 seconds off the heat after adding the popcorn kernels to the pan, hot from popping the 4 test kernels, make all the difference. I have few to no unpopped kernels, ever!

At first I was using organic cold-pressed canola oil as a better alternative to the usual highly refined oils, but I wasn’t really happy about it. So a few years later, when I realized that extra virgin olive oil has quite a decent smoke point (375F/191C), I tried that and it worked beautifully.

But that was a couple years ago, and I got to thinking about how clarified butter has a really high smoke point (485F/252C) and offers the added benefit of killing two birds with one stone, cooking the popcorn and buttering it at the same time.


Perfect Popcorn - Crunchy Caramel Corn - Popped with Clarified Butter! (this photo - Popcorn) / www.delightfulrepast.com
This photo is Popcorn; the other two photos are Caramel Corn.

How to Make Clarified Butter

Clarified butter takes about 15 minutes to make and keeps in the refrigerator for several months. To make 2/3 to 3/4 cup, melt 2 sticks (8 ounces/227 grams) unsalted butter in a 1-quart saucepan, bring to a boil, cook over medium heat for maybe 10 minutes (long enough to cook off the water content), skimming off the foam floating on the top. Let stand for a few minutes, give it a final skim, and pour carefully into a half-pint jar, leaving behind any milk solids on the bottom of the pan. 

The foam and milk solids have a lot of flavor, so you can stir them into something you’re making or put them on your vegetables rather than putting them in the trash.

Do leave a comment and share your likes and dislikes and tips for popcorn and its variations. I should tell you, my caramel corn is much less sweet than most, and I hope you'll try it this less-sweet way. Also, for those who care about such things, it contains no corn syrup.


Perfect Popcorn - Crunchy Caramel Corn - Popped with Clarified Butter! (this photo - Caramel Corn) / www.delightfulrepast.com
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Popcorn 


(Makes about 10 cups) 

1/3 cup (2.5 ounces/71 grams) popcorn kernels 
2 tablespoons (1 ounce/28 grams) clarified organic unsalted butter or extra virgin olive oil
1/8 teaspoon salt 

1 Put 4 popcorn kernels ("test" kernels) in heavy-bottomed 3-quart saucepan (I use the Farberware Classic Stainless Steel 3-Quart Covered Saucepan) along with the clarified butter and salt. Heat over medium to medium-high heat. 

2 When the 4 kernels pop, add the rest of the popcorn kernels in an even layer. Cover, remove from heat, and count 30 seconds. 

3 Return the pan to medium to medium-high heat. When it really starts popping, shake the pan gently back and forth over (or slightly above) the burner, holding the lid askew (at least from time to time) to let the soggy-making steam out. 

4 As soon as the popping slows to several seconds between pops, dump it into a wide 4- or 5-quart bowl. If you like more butter on your popcorn, melt a tablespoon of it in the hot popcorn pan and drizzle it over the popcorn, tossing well to distribute the butter evenly. 


Caramel Corn 


(Makes about 10 cups) 

1/3 cup (2.5 ounces/71 grams) popcorn kernels 
2 tablespoons (1 ounce/28 grams) clarified organic unsalted butter or extra virgin olive oil
1/4 packed cup (1.75 ounces/50 grams) dark brown sugar
2 tablespoons (1 ounce/28 grams) unsalted butter  
1 tablespoon and 1/2 teaspoon water 
1/8 teaspoon salt 

1 Preheat oven to 250F/120C/Gas1/2. Line an 18x13x1-inch half-sheet pan with parchment paper. Measure popcorn kernels and clarified butter. Before starting to pop the corn, in 1-quart saucepan start melting together the sugar, butter and the tablespoon of water over low heat, stirring a few times.


2 Pop the corn as directed in Popcorn recipe, but don't use salt and don't add butter. Pour into a very large bowl (to give you room for tossing). 

3 Increase heat to medium and cook caramel until it has been bubbling for one minute. Stir in the salt and 1/2 teaspoon of water; it will foam up. 

4 Immediately drizzle the foamy sauce over the popcorn, tossing well to coat. Spread out on prepared half-sheet pan. Bake for one hour, stirring every 20 minutes. Remove from oven and let cool completely on the baking sheet.

Disclosure: We are a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for us to earn fees by linking to Amazon .com and affiliated sites. We are a ThermoWorks affiliate, earning a small commission at no cost to you on purchases made through our links. This helps cover some of the costs of running the blog. Thank you for your support. 

Jean

54 comments:

Angie's Recipes said...

Can't remember when I last had some popcorn...it must be over 20 years. Not really fancy them, but I love clarified butter :-)

Thomas "Sully" Sullivan said...

This deserves Classified Secret status, if the Chinese haven’t already stolen it. So glad we have the “Genie” savant to formulate it. Of course, the less-sweetened caramel corn needs work in order to have full biomass appeal, but hey, different strokes, right? Orville, eat your heart out…

Jean | DelightfulRepast.com said...

Angie, I went many years without eating popcorn, too. I don't enjoy the flavor of air-popped popcorn, and corn popped in unhealthful oils don't make the cut with me. So I was happy to discover in 2017 that my extra virgin olive oil worked well, and now clarified butter!

Jean | DelightfulRepast.com said...

Sully, I urge you to try my less-sweet caramel corn. I think you would be pleasantly surprised at how much more satisfying the flavor is.

Zaa said...

OMG ... I have to make this recipe ... My daughter would be so proud that I used clarified butter ( ha Ha) ..Too yummy girl... Enjoy your week-end...Hugs

Lorrie said...

Popcorn is a favourite treat around here, and I've used olive oil for years. The clarified butter will be a good option to try out.

Jean | DelightfulRepast.com said...

Thank you, Zaa. I don't know why it took me so long to think of it! Hope you like it.

Jean | DelightfulRepast.com said...

Thanks, Lorrie. I hope you like it. I have occasionally found myself out of olive oil, but I always seem to have a ready supply of organic unsalted butter on hand.

Pauline Wiles said...

I'm not a massive popcorn fan, but if it was freshly made and natural like yours, Jean, I'm sure I could demolish a few cups mid-movie!

Jean | DelightfulRepast.com said...

Thanks, Pauline! :D We don't eat it often--organic and natural or not, it's not the most nutritious thing in the world, but it's pretty harmless.

Margie said...

Popcorn is one of my favourite snacks. This is the first time I've heard of clarified butter.

Jean | DelightfulRepast.com said...

Margie, it has many uses. I hope you'll make some and try it out. You can serve little individual ramekins of it along with steamed artichokes. Or asparagus.

kitty@ Kitty's Kozy Kitchen said...

What a great idea of yours to use clarified butter, Jean! You always have done wonderful tips for us. I love popcorn, and don't fix it enough.

Pegi said...

Oh my! I love sweet and salty together! I may need to make some tonight for dinner—shhhh. The Sweetie is doing a Landscape job up in Nevada and I’m alone, he prefers his popcorn ‘pure.’ But he will LOVE the use of clarified butter—genius! Thanks my dear friend, you nailed it again!

Jean | DelightfulRepast.com said...

Kitty, thanks! I hope you'll try it soon.

Jean | DelightfulRepast.com said...

Thanks, Pegi. I hope you'll enjoy it as much as you expect to! I really like it a lot.

Menaka Bharathi said...

This is an amazing recipe - I shall surely try - Thanks for participating in Blogger Pit Stop - Pit Sto Crew

TONY said...

Ah Jean, now I know what clarified butter is. I have often wondered. What is it with pop corn and sitting in the cinema watching a film? Marilyn and I have been to the cinema in Wimbledon twice recently, first to watch Olivia Coleman in ,"The Favourite," secondly to watch ,"The Green Book," of which I had no idea what it was going to be about. In both cases Marilyn and I sat there, entranced, eating our way through a large tub of pop corn. I am sure the process of eating the pop corn helps the thinking process. By the way I recommend both films if you have not seen them yet Jean. Olivia Coleman is incredible. Of course we are used to seeing a lot of her here in Britain. The close ups on her face where she seems to, apparently, be doing nothing is a revelation. You can see her thoughts and emotions in the stillness of her face and in her eyes. Is that genius acting or what? The Green Book was a tour de force. A revealing commentary on the racism that existed in your deep south during the 1960s. Anyway. Pop corn. Your pop corn looks great!!! Tony

Lea Ann (Cooking On The Ranch) said...

I wish everyone would make their own popcorn stovetop instead of buying microwave bags. I bought a Whirley Pop Stove Top Popcorn pan years ago and love it. But if I didn't have it, I'd sure appreciate your recommendation on what pan to use. I use olive oil or canola oil, and have never thought to use clarified butter. I must try it. And I love your idea about putting salt in the oil. I better make some popcorn today. :)

Quinn said...

My trouble is finding organic corn to pop. I could never find it in my local market, only when I visited a city with a wider selection of markets. So a few years ago, I grew my own. It was a real treat to pop in winter! Then I noticed organic popcorn had suddenly appeared in my local shop, so I didn't grow any last year - I have a small garden, grow as much of my own food as possible, and corn needs a good bit of room. BUT organic popcorn has now disappeared from the shop! I either have to find a reliable source of storebought organic popcorn or plant it again this year. Because now I REALLY want to try your caramel corn :)

Jean | DelightfulRepast.com said...

Thank you, Menaka. AND it's organic.

Jean | DelightfulRepast.com said...

Thanks, Tony. Clarified butter is a must for things like artichokes and asparagus. You'll have to make some and tell me about your experience. Have only ever seen Olivia Colman in Broadchurch; she was very good. But I don't eat popcorn at the cinema, only homemade.

Jean | DelightfulRepast.com said...

Lea Ann, thanks so much. I don't see where microwave popcorn is much of a timesaver or anything, and when you make it yourself you can salt it and butter it exactly the way you like it.

Jean | DelightfulRepast.com said...

Thank you, Quinn. Good to hear from you. I really like the Eden Organic brand, which you could order from Amazon, but I often just buy the organic popcorn from the bulk bin at a local health food store. I was just planning out my little garden, and my husband mentioned growing some corn. But I pointed out that it needs, as you mentioned, a good bit of room!

Dee | Grammy's Grid said...

Thanks so much for linking up with us at the #WednesdayAIMLinkParty 34! Shared ♥

Jean | DelightfulRepast.com said...

Thanks, Dee!

Mary said...

Oh this sounds just wonderful Jean, I will have to clarify some butter tomorrow afternoon so I can make your caramel corn tomorrow night. Less sweet is just the ticket, it sounds ideal.

Jean | DelightfulRepast.com said...

Thank you, Mary! I do hope you'll like it as much as we do. I don't like that thick, sugary layer on the caramel corn that you can buy.

Balvinder said...

Thanks for sharing the experience of working with different oil for popping corn. The way you made clarified butter is how we make desi ghee. and use for many recipes. It gives off lovely flavor, right?

Jean | DelightfulRepast.com said...

Yes, Balvinder, a lovely flavor. I'm looking forward to using it in several Indian dishes.

Lowcarb team member said...

Thanks for sharing this recipe …

Wishing you a happy April.

All the best Jan

Jean | DelightfulRepast.com said...

Thanks, Jan! Butter, clarified or regular, is my very favourite saturated fat!

Cocoa and Lavender said...

LOVE your method for popping! Maybe I can overcome my fears, too - thanks to you!

Jean | DelightfulRepast.com said...

Oh David, if I can do it, I know you can! I was hopeless! :D

Phil in the Kitchen said...

Clarified butter and popcorn that's not too sweet sounds like an ideal combination to me. I went through a phase of using lots of clarified butter in just about every dish in the early 1980s after a very fine cook told me that it would be the answer to just about everything. Then I moved on to olive oil after a different very fine cook told me that it would be an even better answer. I still use clarified butter in curries but I'm grateful for the reminder that it's very useful for other things too. I do like popcorn dusted with a little smoked paprika and a hint of a few other spices alongside a pre-dinner drink now and then.

Jean | DelightfulRepast.com said...

Thanks, Phil. And that popcorn with a dusting of smoked paprika alongside a pre-dinner drink sounds good as well! I pretty much use butter, clarified butter and extra virgin olive oil for everything, though I'm thinking of adding avocado oil to my arsenal.

April J Harris said...

I would never have thought about using clarified butter for popcorn, Jean. What an inspired idea! I'm using judicious amounts of butter in place of oil these days as it feels so much healthier in view of some of the things I've been hearing. I love the caramel option too - it's a treat, but a wholesome one! Thank you so much for your support of Hearth and Soul.

Jean | DelightfulRepast.com said...

April, thanks so much. I like that -- "judicious amounts"! I've been telling people for decades to ditch the margarine and bad oils, so it makes me happy to see that idea going mainstream now.

Marilyn @ MountainTopSpice said...

Your popcorn sounds delicious, and of course, your tips are really helpful! We have a popcorn popper that I use whenever I make popcorn, but you have tempted me to try to use the stovetop with your foolproof method! And I do love some delicious caramel corn. Thank you for the inspiration, excellent recipe and tips, and I do hope you are having a lovely week so far :)

Jean | DelightfulRepast.com said...

Marilyn, thank you. My sister loved her popcorn popper and used it several times a week, but I've never had one because I have waaaay too many appliances as it is! :D I hope your week is going well, too.

csuhpat1 said...

That looks so good. Thanks for sharing it. Thanks for the tips. #Triumphanttales

Jean | DelightfulRepast.com said...

Thank you, csuhpat1. I hope it helps other people with popcorn problems! :D

Kitchen Riffs said...

I really like popcorn, and often use olive oil. Haven't tried clarified butter -- neat idea. Need to do that. :-) Thanks!

Jean | DelightfulRepast.com said...

John, I think you'll like it--I mean, what's not to like about butter, right?!

Jeanie said...

I love popcorn but have never tried it with evoo or the clarified butter and that sounds well worth a shot. The caramel corn especially sounds delicious! Thanks for such good tips!

Jean | DelightfulRepast.com said...

Thanks, Jeanie. I hope you'll try it soon and try out the evoo and clarified butter and let me know how you liked it.

Cranberry Morning said...

I will tell Mr. C about that off the heat tip!! He uses a little butter and a little coconut oil and a shake of cayenne pepper before he ever adds the kernels. It's delicious. I try to avoid it and eat pistachios instead. Lol

Jean | DelightfulRepast.com said...

Sounds good, Judy. I love pistachios--I almost can't stop eating them once I start! :D

Thisiswhereitisat said...

Oh my gosh this sounds heavenly X

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Jean | DelightfulRepast.com said...

Thanks, TIWIIA!

Mary K.- The Boondocks Blog said...

Jean this is the refined version of my childhood favorite, Cracker Jack. I am pinning this to make at home. Thanks for the recipe.

Jean | DelightfulRepast.com said...

Thanks, Mary. I hope you like it. I definitely like it better than Cracker Jack, which I liked, except for the peanuts. Seems everyone either loved or hated, nothing in between, the peanuts!

Jaki said...

Oh yes! Now this is more like it! LOVE popcorn - this looks divine! Thank you for sharing this with #TriumphantTales. Do come back next week!

Jean | DelightfulRepast.com said...

Thanks, Jaki! I don't know anyone who doesn't like popcorn!

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