Sometimes you encounter a treat that you spend your whole life wanting to recreate. As a kid, I had a friend whose mom made excellent peanut butter popcorn, and I’ve always wanted to try to make it on my own.
Since moving back to Pittsburgh, my attempts to make successful caramel popcorn have failed, so I was a bit nervous about trying this recipe. The air seemed dry enough today (humidity is the enemy of candy-making), and armed with positive thoughts, I set my sugar and corn syrup to boil on the stove. After the requisite minute, I pulled them from the heat, stirred in my peanut butter and vanilla, and….magic. That heavenly, almost marshmallowy, peanut buttery smell that I remembered from childhood filled my kitchen. The consistency looked right, smooth and not unlike caramel. Into the oven it went, and 10 minutes later it came out a resounding success.
I used a disposable pan for this experiment just in case, but I’ll likely use a glass dish next time and/or spread the finished popcorn on a sheet of buttered foil to cool. As much as you’ll want to dive in right away, sugar gets dangerously hot when it cooks, so make sure the popcorn is completely cool before you serve it.
- 4 cups air-popped popcorn (2 tablespoons unpopped)
- 1/2 cup sugar
- 1/2 cup light corn syrup
- 1/2 cup peanut butter
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Preheat oven to 300 degrees.
Place popcorn in a 9 x 13 glass baking dish.
In a medium saucepan, combine sugar and corn syrup; bring to a boil and boil for 1 minute.
Remove from heat and stir in peanut butter and vanilla.
Pour over popcorn, stirring to coat.
Bake for 10 minutes, stirring every few minutes to continue coating the kernels evenly.
Remove from oven and cool completely before serving. Store in an airtight container.