Honey adds delicate sweetness to crunchy popcorn, creating a sweet and salty snack that you don't have to feel guilty about. Omit using butter for a low-fat option, or use a melted coconut oil for a vegan twist to add richness. The basic recipe can be easily modified so that you can either eat the honey popcorn straight from the bowl or form it into shapes or bars. Add extra flavoring ingredients to change the honey popcorn to suit your tastes.
Honey Buying Guide
Not all honey is created equal. In fact, according to a 2011 Food Safety News article, approximately 76 percent of the honey found on grocery store shelves undergoes extreme filtration and processing that removes all the naturally occurring pollen. Honey without pollen isn't technically honey at all. Honey gets its flavor from the pollen that the bees collect, giving each honey a regional flair that's similar to how wine grapes grown in different areas yield wines with flavor variations.
Whether you buy your honey at the grocery store, health food store or online, look for domestically produced, "raw" honey, which provides maximum flavor and nutritional benefits. Alternatively, you can buy honey from regional beekeepers, many of whom sell their honey at farmers markets.
At its most basic, honey popcorn only needs two ingredients: honey and popcorn. Warm the honey slightly, if necessary, by placing the jar in a pan of warm water, or by microwaving it for 10 to 20 seconds to achieve a liquid consistency. After drizzling the honey on top of the popcorn, carefully stir the popcorn to make sure it's well coated. Sprinkle a little salt on top of the popcorn and stir it again to distribute the salt.
To add a little extra richness, melt butter or coconut oil in a saucepan set over low heat or in the microwave. Use approximately 1 tablespoon of honey for every 4 tablespoons of butter. Increase the amount of honey if you prefer sweeter popcorn. Stir the butter and honey together and pour it evenly over the popcorn before sprinkling some salt over the top and stirring it to coat all the kernels.
Going Beyond the Bowl
Use the same method for making honey popcorn -- but use equal amounts of butter and honey -- to make honey popcorn balls or bars. Melt the butter in a saucepan set over medium heat before stirring in the honey and a little salt. Arrange the popcorn in a baking pan and pour the honey mixture over the popcorn. Stir it gently and bake it in an oven that's been preheated to 325 degrees Fahrenheit for approximately 25 minutes, stirring it every 5 minutes. Let the popcorn cool for approximately 5 minutes. Stir the mixture and let it cool in clumps, or remove small amounts of the mixture with an ice cream scoop and press them firmly into balls.
To make bars, press the cooked honey and popcorn mixture into a baking dish with its interior coated with cooking spray. Optionally, you can also mix in some chopped nuts, rolled oats and dried fruit to create a hearty popcorn bar. Refrigerate it for 30 to 60 minutes until the popcorn is firm before cutting it into bars.
Additional Flavoring Options
When you feel like spicing things up, you can quickly and easily add flavor to the honey popcorn by stirring in extra dry ingredients such as crushed nuts, powdered peanut butter or cayenne pepper for a little sweet heat. For a festive flavor punch, try stirring in finely grated citrus zest and spices such as cinnamon, ginger, vanilla, cloves, nutmeg, allspice or anise. If you want to really spice things up, try combining 1 tablespoon of Sriracha into every 1/4 cup of honey that you're using.
- Exotic Table; Aliya LeeKong
- The Healing Powers of Honey; Cal Orey
- Chicago Sun-Times: Peanut-Honey Popcorn: Big Flavor, Little Fat
- Cooking Light: How to Buy Real Honey
- Food Safety News: Tests Show Most Store Honey Isn’t Honey
- My Recipes: Bite-Size Honey Popcorn Balls
- Heather Christo: Sriracha-Honey Popcorn Clusters
- My Recipes: Popcorn Snack Bars
- Photo Credit O76/iStock/Getty Images
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