How To Make Your Own Gourmet Popcorn

For popped corn lovers, there are tasty varieties that can be made at home that won't take lots of time or expense.

The snack aisles in most grocery stores are filled with variations on the old-fashioned popcorn snack. Today, this tasty treat comes in all flavors and colors, leaving very little to the imagination. If you appreciate this American snack food staple and are considering the idea of experimenting with the creation of your own gourmet popcorn, here are some racy suggestions that you might like to try.

CHOCOLATE CHERRY CASHEW POPCORN

This scrumptious treat can be made with either milk, dark or white chocolate - depending upon your preference - and is quick and easy to throw together. Simply melt a bag of chocolate chips and mix with candied cherry halves and salty cashew halves until well blended. Spoon over popped corn and stir until thoroughly coated. Drop by spoonfuls onto waxed paper until cool and firm. You'll enjoy this delightful snack - filled with a variety of textures - which offers a great taste combination.

ZESTY ITALIAN POPCORN

Pop 12 cups of popcorn and drizzle approximately ¼ cup of melted butter over it. Sprinkle with dry Italian salad dressing mix (the Good Seasons brand is ideal for this) and toss until evenly coated. This is a great, zesty popcorn that would be a marvelous party snack or simply for an evening at home with the family. This tends to be extremely flavorful, however, and may not be appropriate for younger children.

BUTTERSCOTCH ALMOND POPCORN

Melt a bag of butterscotch morsels, blend in some slivered almonds and pour over some popped corn, mixing well. When finished, drop by spoonfuls onto a greased baking sheet or waxed paper and allow to cool. The result is a sweet, crunchy gourmet mixture, rich in taste and easy on the schedule - this can be made in no time at all, and other tasks can be accomplished while waiting for the mixture to cool and become firm.

LEMON DILL POPCORN

This is a unique taste sensation that's quick and easy to make. The longer it sits, the better the flavor, so prepare it and spend time doing other things before savoring this tasty treat. Prepare a couple of quarts of buttery popcorn, and - while waiting for it to finish popping - mix a teaspoon of dill weed and two tablespoons of shredded lemon peel. When finished, mix the popcorn with the seasonings thoroughly and allow to sit for several minutes. The result is a tangy dill snack that's quite unique in its presentation.

CHOCOLATE TOFFEE POPCORN

Prepare some plain popcorn and set aside. Melt a bag of milk chocolate chips and crush some toffee candy bars into very small pieces. Blend well and pour over popcorn, mixing thoroughly. Place in spoonfuls onto waxed paper and wait until firm and cool before eating. You can determine the overall texture and taste of this by using more or less of the toffee crunch in the mixture.



SAVORY GOURMET POPCORN

It's simple to make gourmet popcorn that offers a savory flavor, and these flavoring agents can be found in many stores and through online merchants. All you'll need to do is make some popcorn (not air-dried - there should be some moisture from butter) and sprinkle on any one of these luscious flavors. Included among the many varieties are Cajun, White Cheddar, Ranch, Nacho, Sour Cream & Onion, Barbecue, Jalapeno, Pizza, Bacon & Cheese, Sour Cream & Chives, Apple Cinnamon and many more.

CHOCOLATE SPICE POPCORN

If you're the type who likes their food with lots of hot spice - and you happen to be a chocolate lover, as well - this is a great blending of those two snack favorites in one. Make 8 cups of popped corn and set aside. In a bowl, mix ¼ teaspoon of cayenne pepper, ¾ of a cup of chocolate flavored drink mix powder and a teaspoon of cinnamon. Mix seasonings until well blended and toss into popcorn. Continue to toss the popcorn mixture until evenly coated. This is a very hot and spicy snack, so prepare yourself for an explosion of flavor.

BACON AND CHEDDAR POPCORN

This is a simple oven recipe that combines the luscious flavors of cheddar and bacon with the all-time favorite snack - popcorn. Combine ten cups of popped corn with ¼ pound of extra sharp cheddar cheese - very finely grated - and five slices of crisp, crumbled bacon in a large baking pan. Bake in a preheated oven at 250 degrees for approximately five minutes, or until the cheese melts. This can be used as part of a picnic meal, as a party food or just for munching around the house.

PEANUT BUTTER POPCORN

Make two quarts of popped corn and put aside. In a small pan, combine ½ cup each of sugar and light corn syrup and cook - stirring constantly - until the mixture reaches a rolling boil. Remove from heat and integrate ½ cup of peanut butter and ½ teaspoon of vanilla extract until well blended. Immediately pour over popcorn and blend thoroughly and quickly - the glaze can dry quickly, if you're not careful. Peanut butter fans will absolutely love this scrumptious popcorn variety - and it's great when used as a snack for entertaining, too.

SPICY MUSTARD POPCORN

Mix one teaspoon of dry mustard, ¼ teaspoon of black pepper, ½ teaspoon of salt, ½ teaspoon of thyme and a dash of cayenne pepper. Blend into two quarts of hot, buttery popcorn and toss until well mixed. This is quite spicy and is great when used as a party snack, but might have a little too much of a bite for the younger set. It's delicious, easy to make and uses ingredients that are in most homes, which makes it economically ideal.

There's no limit to the amount of toppings that can be mixed with popcorn to make a delightful gourmet mix, suitable for get-togethers and special functions. Some folks simply like to include it in the regular family snack schedule and are able to provide a lot of variety by simply using a different set of ingredients each time.

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