Snack Break: Sweet, Salty, Popped

When you’re at the movies, there’s nothing quite like buying a bucket of popcorn so decadently butter-soaked that you’re still tasting the salt under your fingertips a few days later.  But away from the movie screen, there are other ways to enjoy popcorn, that are healthier and no less delicious.  Popcorn is another blank canvas food that people can use to express their culinary creativity.  It can be sweet, salty, savory, smoky, served with dinner, or eaten as dessert.  Just typing "popcorn recipes" into an internet search engine will give you so many ideas to spice up the crunchy stuff that you may wonder why you’ve been stuck munching on “butter-flavored” for so long.

Some recipes call for a stove or oven, but there are just as many that can be made in less than five minutes using only a microwave.  In order to be able to control the measurements and flavor combinations, I prefer using plain popcorn that I’ve popped in a paper bag instead of microwavable popcorn.  However, you can purchase microwaveable popcorn that’s “old-fashioned,” “light butter,” or “kettlecorn” as a substitute.  The following is a quick and easy dessert recipe that I created thanks to an irresistible craving for a peanut butter Snickers.

Chocolate Peanut Butter Popcorn

What you’ll need:

  • a small paper bag
  • plain, unpopped popcorn kernels
  • shaved chocolate ( I used shaved hot chocolate chocolate, but if you a have cheese grater and a bar of chocolate, you're good to go)
  • peanut butter
  • butter


What you’ll need to do:

Pour a tablespoon or two of unpopped kernels into a small paper bag and microwave until the popping becomes less frequent.  If you are using microwaveable popcorn, follow the instructions on the bag.  Put about two tablespoons of peanut butter into a bowl with a pat of butter until the mixture reaches a pourable consistency.

Once the popcorn is popped, open the bag and quickly drizzle one to two tablespoons of the peanut butter over the kernels and throw in about two or three tablespoons of the shaved chocolate.  (I understand that the measurements here are again rather ambiguous, but these kinds of recipes are based strictly on taste.)

It is important to add the ingredients as soon as the bag comes out of the microwave to ensure that the chocolate melts properly.  Once the ingredients are added, close the bag and shake the mixture for a several seconds.  At this point you may want to add another drizzle of peanut butter and sprinkle of chocolate to ensure an even coating.  Shake again.

When the popcorn is seasoned to your liking, pour it into a large bowl and enjoy.  The peanut butter sweetens the popcorn while helping the chocolate stick to the kernels.  The chocolate should then melt, adding more sweetness, and if you have good chocolate, a hint of bitterness.  It also speckles the corn and gives it a unique appearance.  The final result should be a slightly sticky sweet and salty combination.  But the best news is that it’s light, healthy, and satisfies those evil cravings.