Project #228 – Stovetop Popcorn Toffee Bars

I’ve grown a little sick of salty, fake-butter microwave popcorn, so I went back to basics and learned how to pop popcorn on the stovetop, something I’ve never done until this week. It’s so easy that I might give up the microwave kind forever. Just take a medium sized pot and pour enough vegetable oil in it to cover the bottom. Heat it until it starts to smoke. Throw in 2-3 tablespoons of kernels, depending on the size of the pot. You want enough to cover the bottom of the pot without any sitting on top of one another, but not so few that there is extra oil and you end up with a greasy bottom layer of kernels.

Cover the pot and shake it gently on the burner. Popping will start after only a few seconds and probably last only a minute. Keep shaking. Wait until the popping dies down and remove the pot from the flame. You should have a pot full of popcorn and no lingering oil. Almost every time I end up with every kernel popped and no yucky burnt ones, which would be a miracle with microwave popcorn.

It’s overall much, much cheaper than buying the bagged kind. Also, I love buying anything where the ingredients list contains only one item. It even says ‘ingredient’ instead of ‘ingredients’. I love it!

Of course, I can never eat all of my popcorn. Coating the popcorn in something keeps it from getting stale, so I opted to cover mine in toffee. Actually, I wanted to coat them in caramel, but I don’t have a thermometer that goes high enough to distinguish between frim-ball and hard-crack, so I ended up with hard crack popcorn. All things considered, it was a tasty way to go, but not the best idea if you have dental work.

I used this recipe for fleur de sel caramels for the coating. Despite the name, this recipe is not salty at all. If you want toffee follow the recipe, but cook the caramel mixture to 258°F.

Line a baking pan with wax paper and grease the hell out of it. Add a layer of popcorn. Make the caramel/toffee mixture and pour it over the popcorn. Don’t stir. Let it cool for an hour. Slice and then gorge.

One Comment to “Project #228 – Stovetop Popcorn Toffee Bars”

  1. Elsa says:

    I recently learned two tricks to make stovetop popcorn even easier:

    - Use a large covered wok, not a big saucepan or stockpot. Its smaller base means less risk of burning the popped kernels, and it's easier to maneuver than a big pot. I have to credit my partner with teaching me that!

    - Heat up the burner, put in the oil and three corn kernels. Wait until they pop-pop-pop, dump in the rest of the kernels, and remove the wok from the heat. Wait thirty seconds, and put it back on the burner.

    I used to burn some popcorn in every batch, and end up with lots of duds, but no more!

    I was planning to make toffee to take to a friend's home for dessert, but maybe I'll make caramel popcorn instead. Mmmm.

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