I can’t quite believe just what a resurgence popcorn has had over the last couple of years.
I first noticed it coming back in fashion a couple of years ago at a food festival in Battersea where I was introduced to Joe and Seph’s Gourmet popcorn. I hadn’t really thought about popcorn ever having flavours beyond sugar, salt or caramel. Little did I know just what flavours popcorn could take on such as cheese on toast, or madras curry with black onion seed and lime or a favourite of mine, thai style peanut satay. There was even one that started off as a hot chilli flavour but ended up lovely and sweet. Incredible really.
Joe and Seph’s can now be found in many local stores and supermarkets which is an example of how it is now often the snack of choice over a bag of crisps. Fast food take-out chains such as Pret and Eat have jumped on the popcorn bandwagon and stock endless bags of popcorn selling it as a lighter, bouncier, skinnier snack to accompany your lunch time sandwich.
I think it allows people to get their snack fix but without the usual calories and fat you might get in a bag of crisps. And they are clearly right, because I haven’t seen a bag of crisps being munched on in a long time. Popcorn however is littering the desks, particularly the girls’ desks.
Popcorn produced in this fashion beats any cinema popcorn I’ve ever tasted which is normally chewy, soft and rather stale with no flavour at all. You also run the risk of breaking a tooth on the un-popped kernels at the bottom of the bag.
With an impending trip to see Turbo this weekend with my nephews, Harrison and William, we’ll no doubt end up with the compulsory bag of popcorn being purchased. Unless of course I could sneak in a homemade variety and convince a 5 and 7 year old my popcorn is better than the cinemas. I don’t fancy my chances!
Seeing as it is just about Halloween, apple and toffee flavoured popcorn seemed the appropriate flavour to have a stab at. I’d recently read a couple of blogs on making apple syrup, one from cloudy apple juice and the other from apple cider and I thought I could use either as the apple flavouring rather than using dried apple which is what a lot of apple flavoured popcorn recipes suggest.
Producing apple syrup like this really intensifies the apple flavour and marries so well with the toffee sauce. I opted to bake my popcorn as I prefer it to have a bit of crunch too.
It really was very addictive and having made it on the Saturday, there wasn’t much left for the Sunday cinema trip. Looks like we’ll be buying that cinema popcorn after all!
Apple cinnamon toffee popcorn
Makes one medium sized bowl
For the apple syrup
500ml apple juice or cider
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
For the toffee sauce
2 tablespoons vegetable or other flavourless oil
40g light brown soft sugar
2 tablespoons golden syrup
For the popcorn
50g popcorn (really you want enough to only just cover the base of the pan you’re using, otherwise it won’t pop properly)
For the apple syrup: (from the Little loaf)
Place the apple juice and cinnamon in a heavy bottomed saucepan over a high heat and bring to the boil. Reduce the heat and simmer, stirring occasionally, for 20-30 minutes or until the apple juice / apple cider has reduced to about 150ml syrup. The remainder syrup can be stored in a container in the fridge for up to a month.
For the popcorn:
Heat the oil on a fairly high heat in a large pan with a lid.
Once the oil is hot, add the corn and shake gently to spread them along the bottom of the pan. If you have a layer more than one kernel thick they won’t pop properly.
Once you hear the corn start to pop, turn the heat down low. The popping will get more constant. Do not open the lid at this stage. Give the pan a shake occasionally.
Once the popping has totally died down and there are a few seconds between pops, take the pan off the heat. You can now take the lid off and you should have a full pan of popcorn.
For the toffee sauce:
Add your apple syrup to a pan. Then add all your toffee sauce ingredients to the apple syrup in a pan on a high heat. The ingredients will melt and come to a rolling boil. Boil the sauce for a few minutes until the sauce has thickened but keep an eye on it.
Do not touch the toffee sauce with your hands because it will burn you!
Pour your toffee and apple sauce over your popcorn and mix thoroughly with a spatula to ensure all your popcorn is well coated.
Once it’s cooled, it will set into a big lump, so feel free to break it up with your hands.
If you prefer the popcorn to be more crunchy, after you have thoroughly mixed the toffee sauce with the popcorn, spread it out on a baking sheet lined with baking parchment, making sure you only have one even layer, so you might need more than one baking tray. Bake the popcorn in the oven at 120°C for one hour, stirring every 15 minutes and breaking up any clumps.
Let the popcorn cool completely on the baking sheets and serve immediately or store in an airtight container for up to a week.