Popcorn was off limits for most of my early teens.
Seems like ten years, though it was more like four, which is still an insanely long time to wear braces.
Some forbidden foods were not a big give-up—jelly beans and Jujubes never did much for me—but corn on the cob and popcorn? That seemed cruel.
Especially because, in the Years Before Braces, popcorn meant Mom Time.
Sunday nights, she’d make us each a big bowl of popcorn (those big, Pyrex bowls I keep trying to find at thrift shops), and we’d play a board game, work a jigsaw puzzle, or snuggle up on the couch to watch TV. With enough good behavior and begging, sometimes I could even stay up for The Avengers.
So, yeah, the smell of popcorn popping makes me think of a black leather catsuit.
So, yeah, why don’t we put some popped popcorn in a sleek, black suit of its own?
Mrs. Peel’s Popcorn
Couldn’t be easier. Lightly sweet and salty kettle corn drizzled with as much (or as little) melted chocolate as you like. Makes 3-4 servings of about a cup-and-a-half each.
- 2 tbsp canola oil (or other vegetable oil)
- 1/3 cup popcorn kernels
- 2 tbsp granulated sugar (use more if you like it sweeter)
- 1 scant tsp salt
- handful of dark chocolate discs or chips (or a chopped-up bar)
Line a baking sheet with a Silpat or parchment paper.
Pour the oil into a handled pot with a good lid. Add three kernels of corn, put the lid on the pot, and turn the burner on medium.
After a couple minutes, listen for the plink-plink-plink. Once those kernals have popped, you know the oil is hot enough to proceed with the Big Job.
Add the sugar, salt, and the rest of the corn. Stir once or twice to coat, put the lid back on, and return the pot to the burner.
Give the pot a shake every 20-30 seconds. After 2 or 3 minutes, you’ll start to hear intermittent plinks as the kernels begin to pop. Shake every few seconds as the popping picks up speed.
When the popping slows to every second or so, remove the pan from heat. Carefully lift the lid (watch out for steam and for rogue, flying kernels), and pour the popped corn onto the lined sheet pan to cool a bit. With a fork, push aside any unpopped kernels or burnt bits.
Meantime, melt the chocolate. Use a double boiler or, as I did, the microwave oven. Put the chunked chocolate in a heatproof glass bowl or cup, and microwave on 50% power for 90 seconds. Stir. Repeat. It should be silky and pourable at this point. If not, zap it for another 10 seconds.
Use a spoon or fork to drizzle the melted chocolate over the popped corn. Or, for a full-envelope chocolate experience, put the corn in a large bowl, melt lots of chocolate, pour it into the bowl, stir to coat, and re-spread it onto the sheet pan to harden off.
This’ll stay crisp in an airtight container for several days. But I bet you won’t have it that long.