Maybe it's the college football parties, the trick-or-treating, or the endless grazing before Thanksgiving dinner, but snacks and fall just seem to go together. Popcorn is a very old harvest snack, prepared in the New World long before Columbus ever got here.
This sweet popcorn may actually improve on the original while using yet one more New World food - the peanut.
This recipe for peanut butter popcorn, sweetened with honey, belongs for me in memories of my family. This was our favorite movie night treat, a quick snack with sweet and gooey peanut butter coating every kernel. I vastly prefer it to crunchier caramel corn. If you leave the popcorn in a covered bowl all night, the popcorn gets a little softer and the kernels and peanut butter meld together like soft, slightly salty taffy with a crunch in the middle.
Peanut Butter Popcorn
makes about 8 cups
1/4 cup popcorn kernels
1/2 cup honey
1/3 cup sugar
1/2 cup peanut butter (should be free of added sugar)
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
Prepare a clean paper shopping bag or oversized mixing bowl. Heat a large heavy pan over medium heat and film the bottom with vegetable oil. Add the popcorn, shake to distribute, then put a lid on the pan. Leave a small crack for steam to escape. When the popcorn starts popping, shake vigorously to make sure the kernels pop evenly. When the popping slows, take the pan off the heat.
Pour the popcorn into the paper bag or bowl to cool, being careful to leave any unpopped kernels in the pan. Coated with peanut butter caramel, the unpopped kernels are a serious tooth hazard. Lightly salt the popcorn to taste.
Mix the honey and sugar in a small saucepan and bring to a boil. Let it simmer for a couple minutes, then remove from the heat and add the peanut butter. Stir vigorously until all the peanut butter is melted, then mix in the vanilla.
Immediately pour the peanut butter caramel over the popcorn and stir with a long-handled wooden spoon until it's all coated. Once it's mixed you can put it in a serving bowl. Cover tightly after it's cooled.
(Images: Faith Hopler)
Re-edited from post originally published on November 10, 2006