Try stovetop popcorn straight-up or flavour it with this recipe for Cinnamon Maple Caramel Popcorn made with tahini and maple syrup.
Popcorn is a nutritious snack option despite popular diets that lead us to believe that we need to steer clear of carbohydrates. We absolutely don’t need to!
However, I know all too well how convincing self-proclaimed wellness experts can be. Before I studied nutrition and learnt more about how our body breaks down the foods we eat, I had avoided popcorn. How sad is that?
An easy, joyful snack
Popcorn is a joyful food. Not only is it deliciously light and crunchy, it is also a food we associate with going to the movies. During my childhood, popcorn dusted with icing sugar was always a favourite at birthday parties. Thanks, mum, for instilling that love!
So, popcorn is back on the menu. Generally, I have popcorn straight-up made in a saucepan with a little salt or nutritional yeast.
However, you can get ‘fancy’ and bake onto the popcorn sweet or savoury flavours. I’m more of a sweet tooth when it comes to popcorn. Thus, I’m sharing my recipe for Cinnamon Maple Caramel Popcorn—you’re welcome!
Before I get to how to prepare popcorn, let me assure you that corn in all its forms is a great whole food to have on the menu. Corn, including popcorn, nutritionally is considered a wholegrain. It is rich in B vitamins, protein, fibre and other nutrients, making it a nutritious and economical snack.
However, as always, nutrition isn’t the only reason we eat food. We eat popcorn because it’s fun to hear it pop and it has a light, airy crunch to it. Let’s get crunching.
Ways to prepare popcorn
Now, before we get all gourmet with our popcorn, allow me to share the basics of cooking popcorn.
First up, it is so easy to make that it isn’t really necessary to purchase microwave pre-made popcorn. I generally avoid those so I can flavour my popcorn how I like, make as much as I want and cut down on saturated fat and salt. Not that enjoying buttery, salty popcorn is evil. But for everyday snacking, I like the versatility and lightness of my own.
So, how do we get popping?
Popcorn can be made in the microwave, stovetop or popcorn maker. All are easy, so it just depends on what you have.
You can popcorn kernels in a brown paper bag big enough to accommodate the popcorn that will be produced.
Simply place ¼ cup kernels in a bag, folding the opening over twice.
Then cook for 2–3 minutes on high. Turn off when the time between kernels popping decreases. And never leave it alone.
Stovetop popcorn is generally how I make it; in a saucepan with a glass lid so I can see the popping that is happening. However, you’ll also be able to hear when it is all popped as the popping slows.
All you need is olive oil and popcorn kernels.
I add two tablespoons of oil with two popcorn kernels and place the pan on medium heat, covered. Once those two kernels pop, I know we are ready to go.
I take the saucepan off the heat and pour in half a cup of kernels, shimmy them around, and place them back on the heat, covered. Once the popping starts, I tilt the lid a little, so the steam can escape, not the popcorn. I keep the saucepan on the heat and shimmy a few times until the popping slows, and I know most of the kernels have popped. There might be a few un-popped kernels that need picking out. Then the popcorn is ready for munching—you ready? Let’s get to the recipe for my Cinnamon Maple Caramel Popcorn.
Cinnamon Maple Caramel Popcorn
Ingredients – Popcorn (makes 8-9 cups)
- 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- ½ cup popcorn kernels
Ingredients – Cinnamon Maple Caramel Coating
- 6 cups popped popcorn
- 4 tablespoons maple syrup or flavoured maple syrup
- 2-3 tablespoons tahini almond butter or nut butter of choice
- 1 ½ teaspoons vanilla
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- ¼ teaspoon cinnamon plus more for sprinkling (optional)
Method – Popcorn
- In a large, heavy-bottomed saucepan over medium heat, combine oil with 2 popcorn kernels.
- Cover saucepan and wait for a few minutes for the kernels to pop.
- Then, remove saucepan from heat and pour in remaining popcorn kernels.
- Cover the saucepan again and give it a little shimmy to distribute the kernels evenly.
- After 60 seconds, place saucepan back on the heat. Cook carefully, shimmying the saucepan occasionally to cook the kernels evenly. Please do not allow the oil to smoke as it will destroy the popcorn. In this case, reduce the heat.
- Once kernels start popping, tip the lid a touch to allow steam to escape, but not the popcorn.
- Keep saucepan on the heat until the popping slows to about one pop every few seconds. Never leave unattended, and if the popcorn tries to overflow the saucepan, tip the upper portion into a bowl and return saucepan to heat.
- Place popcorn into a serving bowl. If necessary, pick out any unpopped kernels.
Method – Cinnamon Maple Caramel Popcorn
- Preheat oven to 180°C and line a baking tray with baking paper.
- In a small, heavy-bottomed saucepan, bring maple syrup to a boil over medium heat for 2 and half minutes. Reduce heat only if necessary to prevent burning.
- Then remove saucepan from heat. Add nut butter, vanilla, salt and cinnamon. Whisk together.
- Then drizzle the mixture over the popcorn. Toss until well coated.
- Pour popcorn onto baking tray and arrange it in a single layer.
- Bake the popcorn for 6 minutes. Then stir, and cook for another 2 minutes.
- Remove from oven. Sprinkle with additional cinnamon to taste.
- Once cool, break into pieces or leave in chunks. Serve.
StoragePlain popcorn is best fresh but keeps in a sealed plastic bag (squeeze out as much air as possible) for a few days. The Cinnamon Maple Caramel Popcorn can be stored the same way but may become soft. So, either eat it right away or put it in the oven for five minutes to crisp up again before eating, if necessary.
Share your popping corn adventures
I’m sure others would love to hear your favourite popcorn toppings.
Share in the comments below, whether about this caramel popcorn or other flavour combinations you enjoy.
And if you’ve been pleasantly surprised by the caramel taste of tahini and maple syrup combined, you may like my recipe for Caramel Date Frappe.