Buttered Popcorn Cookies
I recently found out that a friend of mine hates popcorn. And it's funny, because, whereas most people's food dislikes generally seem harmless but mildly understandable-tomatoes, eggs, broccoli rabe, fish (ahem) - who doesn't like popcorn? Popcorn?
I harassed her for a while about this. She talked about hating how the shell-like kernels scratched her mouth, about the taste of the fake-buttery slick of the packaged stuff and the steaminess that comes out of the bag when it's opened, and how nightmarish movie theaters are for people like her. She said she'd fallen in the past for powdery 'cheddar'-dusted popcorn, and caramel popcorn mixed with nuts, but she knew you could also cover cardboard with that stuff and it would taste good. She insisted that nobody liked pop corn plain-you either admitted that it smelled funky or you were lying-that they just liked the stuff you put on it, and that stuff was like a chemistry set. She went on and on. I was impressed by how much thought she'd put into it.
Still, I decided we couldn't be friends after that. Um, just kid ding! No, I decided that the only thing I could possibly love more than buttered popcorn would be to take that buttered popcorn and put it into a cookie. It follows basic snack maths, which is that two forms of junk food together always exceed the greatness of them separately, especially when you mix the salty and the sweet. It's like chocolate-covered pretzels, salted chocolate caramel sauce, or potato chips crushed inside a peanut-butter-and-jelly sandwich (don't look at me like that; those kids at the second-grade lunch table were geniuses).
Popcorn inside a cookie, however, it's different. In some bites, it provides a little extra buttery crunch, and in others, a soft cloud to break up the crispness of the cookie. It's spectacular against a brown-sugar-and-vanilla base, and downright pretty in the puddle of a toasted buttery cookie.
|2 tbsp||vegetable oil|
|¼ tsp||table salt|
|1 tbsp||butter, melted|
|100g||light brown sugar|
|½ tsp||vanilla extract|
|½ tsp||baking soda|
Make popcorn Pour the oil over the bottom of a large saucepan that has a lid, and add the popcorn kernels, shimmying the pan around so the kernels land in one layer. Cover the pot, heat it over medium-high heat, and, once the kernels begin to pop, keep the saucepan moving until all of the kernels have popped, about 5 to 7 minutes total. Toss the table salt and then the melted butter over the popcorn, then transfer it to a bowl so that you can fish out any unpopped kernels. Let cool.
Mix dough Preheat your oven to 180°/fan 160°C/Gas 4. In a large bowl, cream together the softened butter, brown sugar, granulated sugar, egg, and vanilla until smooth. In a separate bowl, whisk the flour and baking soda together. Stir the combined dry ingredients into the butter-sugar mixture. Fold in the cooled popcorn so that it is evenly distributed through the batter, which will seem like a ridiculous instruction because there is so much popcorn and so little cookie batter, but it works. Don't worry if the popcorn breaks up a bit. The mixed-size pieces are part of the cookie's charm.
Bake cookies Scoop heaping-tablespoon-sized mounds 5cm apart onto a parchment-lined baking sheet. Bake the cookies for 10 to 12 minutes, until the edges are light brown. Let them sit on the hot baking sheet for a few minutes to firm up before transferring them to a rack to cool.