Popcorn — I’m talking stovetop popcorn here, get that microwaved nonsense out of my face* — is a severely underrated snack.
It’s quick and easy to make, (relatively) healthy, cost-effective, and versatile. All it takes is a pot, olive oil, kernels, kosher salt, and a bowl. Hella impressive sorcery right there.
My dad is the popcorn master. He instilled in us a love for the snack very early on, and continues to make a massive batch of it every time we’re home whether it’s for a movie marathon or football playoffs. It doesn’t matter if two or five of us are home, the quantity of popcorn rarely varies and the bowl always, always disappears in a matter of minutes.
Generally, I like my snacks to hit both sweet and salty notes so these caramel popcorn bars are right in my wheelhouse. Elevate your party snacks, bring leftovers to work, and bask in your baking prowess.
*While I think the world would be a better place if microwaved popcorn disappeared entirely, Tinder prospects take note: you best be prepared to share popcorn with me on a movie date. No butter. Also, something chocolate.
Caramel Popcorn Bars (adapted from Shutterbean)
1-2 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 cup popcorn kernels
3-4 cups pretzels, roughly chopped
1 cup toasted almonds, roughly chopped
1 cup mini dark chocolate chips (optional)
2 cups sugar
1/4 cup water
2/3 cup heavy cream
1 teaspoon kosher salt, + more for sprinkling
2/3 cup mini marshmallows
Spray a glass pan with cooking spray and set aside.
In a large pot (preferably one with two handles), heat olive oil over medium heat. Add popcorn kernels and cover with a lid. Using oven mitts, swirl popcorn around periodically until kernels begin to pop. Leave covered over the heat until popping slows down, approximately 2 minutes. Carefully remove the lid to let the steam out. Put popcorn in a large bowl and set aside.
Add pretzels, almonds, and chocolate chips to bowl with popcorn. Toss together until mixed evenly.
Add sugar, water, and salt to a large saucepan. Boil over medium-high heat until caramel forms. Watch closely — while a watched pot never boils, boiling sugar will turn quickly to molasses if not monitored (I did this).
Remove pan from the stovetop and slowly add cream – the caramel will bubble up and nearly overflow. When the caramel settles, add marshmallows and stir until melted.
Spray a rubber spatula with cooking spray. Pour caramel over the bowl of salty snacks and toss together with spatula until evenly coated. Dampen your hands with water and transfer the popcorn to glass dish. Press popcorn into the pan and sprinkle with additional kosher salt. Allow to cool before you cut into squares. Try to save some for your friends (it’s difficult).