October is National Popcorn Month. I'm not sure who decides these things but, since I love popcorn, I'm OK with it. I have two fun recipes to share. The red hot popcorn came from my friend Ann Cook in Dallas, Texas. It's incredibly easy to make and has always been a big hit. The second, popcorn ice cream, was suggested to me by my friend Rick Cronin. I modified my pumpkin ice cream recipe and used caramel sauce and fresh popcorn as a topping and it seemed to be a big hit too. A few of my Facebook friends told me they enjoy their popcorn with a little olive oil and parmesan cheese. That works for me, too!
I was also fortunate to have some of our local businesses share some of their popcorn creations. It's great to support our local businesses and The ShowPlace ICON Theatre, Nuts on Clark and The Popcorn Factory are all celebrating National Popcorn Month with some incredibly creative specialty items. Here are some of the treats these folks have in store for you. You’ll find my two recipes at the end.
The ShowPlace ICON Theatre
The ShowPlace ICON Theatre offers guests a number of unique gourmet popcorn flavors, including bacon popcorn, freshly made cheese corn, caramel corn and the Chicago ICON mix (cheese and caramel). There's always the classic theatre popcorn with the option of real butter and additional seasoning options like nacho cheese, white cheddar, and kettle corn. Moviegoers enjoy ICON for the one-of-a-kind experience, where modern design and delectable dining converge with state-of-the-art cinematic technology. Patrons can relax with a drink and a bite before or after in the Lobby Lounge which features drinks and sophisticated starters and is a truly stylish experience for all guests.
The Popcorn Factory
The Popcorn Factory has delicious gift bags and tins filled with all kinds of goodies including candies, cookies, and popcorn for just about any occasion. Just in time for Halloween, we were treated to their new "Mr. Bonejangles" a 3-way tin with butter, cheese and caramel. There's also a special Halloween kettle corn mix that comes in its own container. And, we also sampled two of their newest popcorn flavors - cracked pepper & sea salt and dark chocolate with sea salt. I’m loving the sea salt as an ingredient these days and The Popcorn Factory did a nice job with it. These are flavorful combinations and make great gifts that you can order online and send just about anywhere.
Nuts on Clark
Nuts on Clark has been a part of Chicago for 30 years originated in their Wrigleyville Clark Street store serving up nuts, candy and, of course, popcorn!
Bears fans get a tasting sampling of Nuts on Clark's gourmet cheesecorn and caramelcorn at all Chicago Bears games and skybox suites and the Cadillac Club. In addition to their kettle corn, we were also treated to pecan, cashew and almond glazed corn. They've also created specialty bags of pink popcorn and pink popcorn balls and donated them to American Airlines to display and distribute to passengers during Breast Cancer Awareness month. What a nice thing to do! The pink popcorn has a tasty cotton candy cherry flavor.
You can get more information about all three of these companies in the 'resources section' below.
Red Hot Popcorn
couresy of Ann Cook
3 bags Natural Microwave Popcorn, 3.5oz size, popped with all the "old maids" picked out
1 1/2 sticks Butter or Margarine
1/2 cu Karo Syrup
9.5 oz bag Red Hots (or about 1 1/2 cup)
Melt butter, karo and red hots on the stove. Bring to a boil and boil for 5 minutes.
Meanwhile put popped popcorn into a large greased roasting pan (I use one of those disposable turkey pans). Pour syrup over the popcorn and stir. Bake for 1 hour at 250 degrees. Stir every 15 minutes. When done, pour onto wax paper to cool. Break into pieces and store in a sealed container or bag.
I experimented with using Lemon Heads and like the results. But, be sure boil that mixture for only about 3 minutes and watch it so that it doesn't begin to burn. Also, taste the corn just out of the oven. If it's a little bitter for you, sprinkle about 3 tablespoons of sugar on the corn while it's still warm. Toss to combine and then follow final directions as listed above.
Popcorn Ice Cream
2 1/4 cu Heavy Cream
1 1/2 cu whole Milk
6 lg Egg Yolks
3/4 cu Granulated Sugar
1 pkg Microwave Popcorn
2 tsp Vanilla Extract
1/2 tsp Salt
Pop popcorn according to package directions. Place cream and milk in a large saucepan over medium heat. Bring to a simmer and add popped corn. Simmer for 15 minutes. Be careful not to let it boil over. Meanwhile, whisk together egg yolks and sugar in a medium sized bowl until creamy and about the consistency of mayonnaise. Continuing whisking and pour about 1 cup of the hot cream mixture until fully incorporated. Pour the warmed mixture back into the saucepan and cook until just before mixture starts to boil, stirring constantly.
Strain mixture through a fine sieve into a bowl. Add salt and vanilla extract. Place a piece of plastic directly onto the surface and then chill the mixture for at least 4 hours before putting into an ice cream freezer.
Once frozen, try serving with caramel sauce and sprinkle fresh popcorn on top.
Nuts On Clark
3830 N. Clark Street, Chicago, IL 60613
The Popcorn Factory
13970 West Laurel Drive, Lake Forest, IL 60045
150 West Roosevelt Road, Chicago, IL 60607