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Movie Theater Butter Popcorn

Movie theaters use a butter flavored oil because it has less water content than butter does.  You can use butter to achieve the movie theater experience, you just have to clarify the butter first.  If you were to melt butter and pour it directly over the popcorn, it would get soggy due to the water content.  Clarifying the butter removes a lot of the water and can be done relatively easily. 

1-2 stick unsalted sweet cream butter, this is going to depend on how much popcorn you are making. 1 stick works well for about ½ cup of popcorn kernels.

If you have an air popper, follow the directions that came with your machine.  

If you are using a pot on the stove top, you will need 2 Tbsp coconut oil.  You can use a different oil but it won’t taste quite the same.  Movie theaters use coconut oil to pop their corn.  

Salt or other seasonings if desired, to taste

Place the butter in a glass measuring cup with a spout or a microwave safe bowl. Microwave on high for 30-40 seconds until completely melted. Let sit for a couple minutes and the butter will separate.  You may already have some foam on the top when you remove it from the microwave.  Using a spoon, gently scoop off the foamy top on the butter and discard (no need to be perfect, just get as much as you can). Set the butter aside while you make your popcorn.  If using an air popper, pop the corn according to the directions that came with your machine into a large bowl.  OR in a large pot with a lid, melt coconut oil over high heat. Add in the popcorn kernels and stir to coat all the kernels.  Shake the pot frequently to avoid burning. Once the first kernel pops (about a minute or two), immediately place the lid on the pot, but leave it ajar so steam can escape.  If you don’t place the lid on it, popcorn will be all over your kitchen.  Did you know popcorn can pop over 3 feet high? Continue shaking the pot frequently until the popping slows down. Once it does slow down, remove the pot from the heat and let sit for a few minutes while the final kernels pop.  Once all the kernels are done popping, slowly stream the butter over the popcorn, stopping at least when you reach the opaque part of the melted butter (this is the milk solids), but this will be to your taste.  Use as much or as little butter as you like.  You can discard the opaque solids unless you have a purpose for it.  

Recipe adapted from foodnetwork.com.


Caramel Corn

½ cup unsalted sweet cream butter

2 cups brown sugar 

½ cup corn syrup 

½ tsp salt 

½ tsp baking soda 

1 tsp vanilla bean paste 

5 qts popped popcorn--½ cup popcorn kernels, heaping

Line 2 baking dishes with parchment paper or use a large turkey roaster sprayed with cooking spray if you have one.  Fill each dish with popped popcorn (make sure you have removed the old maids and bridesmaids) and place in oven and turn oven on to 250°.  In a medium saucepan over medium heat, melt butter. Stir in brown sugar, corn syrup and salt. Bring to a boil, stirring constantly. Boil without stirring 4 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in baking soda and vanilla. Remove popcorn from oven and pour caramel in a thin stream over popcorn, stirring to coat.  Return pans to oven and bake for 45 minutes to an hour stirring every 15 minutes.  Make sure you are pulling up any caramel that has settled on the bottom so there is not a solid chunk at the bottom when you are finished.  Remove from oven and stir one final time.  Break apart any large chunks.  You can either cool in the pan or lay parchment paper over the counter and spread popcorn over counter.  Allow to cool completely.  Once completely cool, break apart any pieces that are stuck together.  You don’t have to bake at all.  If you want soft chewy popcorn, skip the baking and enjoy.  The baking makes it crunch up and more like the caramel corn you buy from the store.   Store in an air tight container.

Recipe adapted from allrecipes.com.


Popcorn Balls

7 qts popped popcorn-about ¾ cup popcorn kernels

1 cup sugar

1 cup light corn syrup

¼ cup water

¼ tsp salt

3 Tbsps unsalted sweet cream butter

1 tsp vanilla bean paste

Food coloring, optional

Place popcorn in a large baking pan (make sure you remove the old maids and bridesmaids); keep warm in a 200° oven.  In a heavy saucepan, combine the sugar, corn syrup, water and salt. Cook over medium heat until a candy thermometer reads 235° (soft-ball stage).  Remove from the heat. Add the butter, vanilla and food coloring if desired; stir until butter is melted. Immediately pour over popcorn and stir until evenly coated.  When mixture is cool enough to handle, quickly shape into 3-in. balls.  To prevent sticking, you can coat your hands with butter or cooking spray or lightly dust with powdered sugar.  You can also dip hands into cold water often to prevent sticking.  

Recipe from tasteofhome.com.


Kettle Corn

¼ cup vegetable oil 

¼ cup white sugar

½ cup unpopped popcorn kernels

Heat oil in large pot over medium heat. Once hot, add popcorn and stir to completely coat kernels. Add sugar and stir again.  Cover.  Once popcorn begins to pop, alternate leaving the pot on the burner for 3-5 seconds and lifting and shaking the pot for 3-5 seconds to keep sugar from burning. Once the popping has slowed to once every 2 to 3 seconds, remove the pot from the heat and continue to shake for a couple minutes until the popping has stopped. Pour into a large bowl, and allow to cool, stirring occasionally to break up large clumps.

Recipe adapted from allrecipes.com.


Popcorn Grits

This recipe really depends on how much you want to make and how many people will be eating it.  If it’s only you eating a bowl, you don’t need to use as much popcorn or water.  If you are feeding four people, you will need to go up in the amount of popcorn you make and may need more water to soften it all.

½ cup popcorn kernels

4 Tbsp unsalted sweet cream butter plus more for finishing if desired

4 cups water

Salt to taste

Pop popcorn in an air popper according to the manufacturer’s directions. To pop on stovetop, melt 2 Tbsp coconut oil in large pot. Add kernels, and stir to coat.  Cover, wait until you hear the corn starting to pop. Lower the heat to medium-high, shaking often so there are no hotspots. When the popping slows to a trickle, remove the pot from the heat and let it stand one minute. Uncover and pour the popcorn into a bowl, watching for any burnt pieces on the bottom, which should be discarded along with unpopped kernels.  Bring a 4 cups of water, 4 Tbsp of butter and a pinch of salt to a simmer. Add popcorn to pot.  If you didn’t make a lot of popcorn, then you can do this all at once.  If needed though, do this in smaller batches, just make sure the popcorn is submerged. Simmer 30 seconds to a minute, until the popcorn has softened.  Remove popcorn using a slotted spoon to a large bowl if you are softening in batches.  If you are softening the whole batch, strain the popcorn through a fine mesh sieve.  You need the liquid though so make sure you are straining into a bowl.  You can also strain each batch through a fine mesh sieve, but you still need the liquid so it has to go back to the pot each time if you want to do it this way.  If you are using this method, just repeat until all popcorn is soft.  Press the cooked corn through a medium strainer basket, discarding the hulls and seeds that cannot be pushed through. Transfer the pressed corn, which will look like stiff grits, into a pot. Add the reserved cooking liquid, which should be slightly thickened from the corn starch, and taste like popcorn. Add butter and more water to taste –I like it thick so I don’t always add more water or just very little if necessary. Serve with eggs and toast for breakfast or serve with curried shrimp for dinner!

Recipe adapted from pbs.org.


Popcorn Puree

Use this recipe in place of your gravy as a lighter alternative or use it as a base in Popcorn Ice Cream!

8 cups popped popcorn

1¼ cup heavy cream

3 cups water

4 oz butter

6 strands saffron

Salt, to taste

Place popcorn, 1 cup cream, water and butter in a pot and simmer for approximately 30 minutes, or until the mixture starts to become thick. Strain through a sieve, using a ladle to push as much through as possible. At this stage, the mixture should resemble polenta.  Add ¼ cup cream and saffron in a pot and then add the popcorn mixture until heated through. Add this mixture to a blender and purée until silky smooth. Season with salt to taste. 


Recipe adapted from feastmagazine.com.