February plays host to three big events, all of which are party-worthy, and all of which the humble piece of dried corn can play a starring role. Valentine’s Day is a perfect opportunity to show your affection and culinary prowess with our sure-to-impress caramel popcorn to share with your sweetheart or an entire party. While you are voting for your favorite Oscar winners, amp-up the movie theater atmosphere at home with our chosen winners for the best theater-style microwave popcorn you can buy at the grocery store. And for sports fans, you can lay odds that our peanut-butter popcorn will satisfy the hungriest of appetites during Super Bowl XLVII. To make these simple recipes, all you need are a few ingredients, a microwave and lots of napkins.
Best Oscar-worthy theater-style popcorn
With adult and child popcorn “experts” on hand, in a most un-scientific way we tested a variety of theater-style popcorn brands on a cold winter night in January.
Valentine’s Caramel Corn
15 cups popped corn
1 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup butter
1/4 cup light corn syrup
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. baking soda
Spread cooked popcorn on baking sheets in a single layer.
Mix the brown sugar, butter corn syrup and salt in a saucepan. Cook over medium heat, stirring often. When bubbles form around the edge of pot, cook for 5 minutes, stirring constantly. Remove from heat and add baking soda.
Pour mixture over the popcorn and mix until kernels are coated. Bake at 200º for an hour, stirring every 15 minutes. After cooled, drizzle with melted chocolate or chocolate sauce and add your favorite small candies such as dried chocolate cherries. Serve in elegant glasses.
Super Bowl Popcorn
15 cups popped corn
1 to 1.5 cubes unsalted butter
1 cup peanut butter
Salt to taste
Put the popcorn in a large mixing bowl. On low heat, melt the butter in a medium pan. Add peanut butter and mix until well blended. The consistency should be like a thick syrup, easy to pour. Add melted butter or peanut butter to the mixture as needed, depending on the thickness of the peanut butter you are using. When the mixture cools to warm, drizzle it over the popcorn, mixing with a large spoon until all kernels are coated. Spoon into individual bowls or bags; serve with lots of napkins!