HOW TO MAKE POPCORN POPPING MORE COMPLICATED THAN IT NEEDS TO BE!

by Oct 21, 2020

HONEY ORANGE CARAMEL CORN

To be perfectly honest, I have never been a popcorn fan, even though I love the smell of popcorn. After a good whiff of that wonderful aroma, I usually eat one handful of popcorn and then I’m done.  I wish I could do that with ice cream.

I share this story because I must admit this was my first time to make microwave popcorn. I didn’t think it would be this difficult. I cook and bake a lot–but microwave popcorn almost did me in!

Allen and I always thought that popping corn on the stove made better popcorn that the microwave bag kind, so I always did it that way. Allen sometimes used the microwave if I was busy or if we were out of regular popping corn. Honestly, if I was on popcorn duty, I used the stove top.

But now I only have a smooth top stove and my old popcorn popping stove that was in the basement is gone. I didn’t want to shake a pan over and over on the ceramic top and scratch it up. So, I bought some microwave popcorn with just a little salt, no butter. How hard could this be?

I opened the package up and I’ll be darned—there were not only directions, but also helpful hints! Helpful Hint number 1: “For improved results, preheat a cup of water on high for one minute in microwave. Remove cup of water and proceed…” I don’t think Allen ever did that. I wonder if anyone else does…

Direction 1: “Microwave on high for 1 to 4 minutes.” Wha-a-a-a-t?!! How does THAT help- 1 minute? 3 minutes? 2 and half minutes? Should I set the microwave for a minute at a time, and re-do it till done?

Nope, that’s not allowed: Hint 3 says, “Stopping and starting microwave oven while popping can reduce number of popped kernels.” I certainly wanted as many popped corns as possible.  Allen used to count the “old maids” left in the bottom of his bowl when I popped corn on the stove top—it became a challenge to have as few as possible without burning the popcorn.

I looked back at the hints: “If your microwave oven does not sufficiently pop popcorn, try raising bag off floor of oven using an inverted microwaveable glass plate. Do not use plastic or paper; melting or scorching may occur.” I wondered again if anyone has ever really done that. Or has anyone else ever read the directions on a microwave bag of popcorn, for that matter? If you have, leave a comment below. I might just send you the rest of my microwave popcorn bags.

Back to direction number 2: “Listen carefully and stop microwave when popping slows to 2-3 seconds BETWEEN pops. Be careful not to overcook as popcorn will scorch.”

OK, I figured it out-set the microwave for 4 minutes and just listen. Maybe I should have stopped reading, but then I saw “NEVER LEAVE MICROWAVE UNATTENDED.” Do you know how LONG a 4-minute stretch really is?

Do you know how hyper I get if I can’t multi-task? I couldn’t start a load of laundry, couldn’t go look at the birds flitting about the bird feeder in hopes of seeing a ne’er before seen species, couldn’t get distracted with email or text messages.  Just wait and listen for up to 4 minutes: deep yoga breaths; I can do this. 

After all that anxiety in my Co-vid Pandemic Brain, I found it only took 1 minute and 47 seconds. And guess what? When I measured the popcorn, I found that I had almost exactly ten cups of popcorn, the exact amount I used in this recipe. Only half a dozen old maids were left in the bag, and there was no burnt popcorn-hooray!

After you master popping corn in the microwave, dump it into a large bowl with the peanuts and continue with the easy part of the recipe.

Preheat the oven as you melt and stir the honey, butter, orange zest and cinnamon together.  I didn’t add salt since it was already in the microwave bag. Add some cayenne if you want a little kick to the treat.  Pour this over the popcorn and stir it until well-coated.  Spread the popcorn out onto two lined sheet pans and bake, stirring every 10 minutes, for 30 minutes.

Didn’t I say this was easy?  Remove popcorn from oven, leave it on the pans and let it cool completely.  It will seem sticky but will firm up and get crispy as it cools. Smells great with the orange zest, too.

HONEY ORANGE CARAMEL CORN

  • 10 cups popped popcorn (2/3 cup unpopped, or 1 microwave popcorn bag)
  • 1 Cup Peanuts
  • 1/3 Cup Honey
  • 3 Tablespoons Butter
  • Zest of one orange (2-3 teaspooons)
  • 1/2 Teaspoon Ground Cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon Sea Salt
  • pinch of cayenne pepper, optional

Preheat oven to 300 degrees F. Pop popcorn and place in a large bowl with peanuts.  Line two sheet pans with parchment paper or foil. In a small saucepan, combine rest of ingredients.  Heat and stir until butter melts.  Pour over popcorn and nuts, tossing to coat.  Divide popcorn between the two pans. Bake for 30 minutes, stirring every 10 minutes.

Cool popcorn on pans completely so it will get nice and crispy. 

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