As the great Julia Child once said, “it’s better to err on the side of caution than to end up with a pot of burnt popcorn.” JK, I actually said that. Do you like how I subtly compared myself to Julia Child? Stay humble! Regardless, this statement is very true (great thought, me!), and something that I learned the hard way during my several rounds of testing for developing this recipe. I would even go as far to say that at this point, I’m a self-proclaimed Popcorn Connoisseur.
In my very professional opinion, a pot of freshly popped, unseasoned popcorn is a perfect product that needs no improving. However, there are exceptions for everything, and quite frankly, this salty-sweet concoction just might be an improvement for an already flawless food.
I'll admit–I have a tendency to overdo it with tahini (which isn’t possible, but I digress…), and I’ve definitely earned myself a reputation for adding to tahini to EVERYTHING: oatmeal, baked goods, lattes, sauces, pastas, salads, face masks (JK, but maybe I’m on to something?!), the list goes on. But I am here, on record, to proclaim that tahini. Is. Absolutely. Necessary. In. This. Application. Period. Swirling the tahini with brown butter makes for a delicious sauce to coat the popped kernels, and then topping off the entire situation with a miso caramel makes this your new favorite snack.
The key to this recipe is all in the kettle corn. I can proudly say that I burned an incomprehensible amount of popcorn on my journey to nailing down this recipe, so I’d like to think that I have a pretty good grasp on what it takes to achieve the perfect pop. Once your oil is hot and your tester kernels have popped, it’s important to move quickly. Add the kernels, sugar, and salt, making sure that the kernels are evenly coated with sugar and spread in a single layer at the bottom of the pot, and then put the lid on immediately. Congrats champ, you’re 5 minutes away from the best kettle corn of your life.
Your heat should be no hotter than medium–high. You definitely want to pop it like it’s hot, but high heat is TOO HOT. I know it might be tempting to crank it all the way up, but your kernels are going to pop too quickly and then burn almost instantly. It’s upsetting, it makes your kitchen smell like a movie theatre that’s engulfed in flames and it leaves a residue on your pot that you won’t be excited to scrub off. Wouldn’t recommend! Instead, expect to wait about 2 minutes before the first pop–this is normal! Patience is a virtue–you can do this. Gently move the pot to keep the kernels evenly coated and to avoid burning them. By the fifth minute, the kernels will be popped to perfection, and you won’t have a layer of sugar that’s been absolutely incinerated on the bottom of your pot. Oh, joyous day!
This nutty, buttery snack is ideal for your next viewing party, (Oscar’s, anyone?), a casual movie night-in, or any intense snack craving. Quite frankly, the beauty of popcorn is that you never need an excuse to make it. And when it’s matched with a tahini butter sauce and miso caramel, I mean, what’s not to love?!
Photo by @thenonchalantcook