One of the great new cookbooks released in the past year is the New York Times bestselling Smitten Kitchen Cookbook by Deb Perelman. It’s packed with photos that will have you drooling over the pages, and nearly all of the recipes are new ones that can’t be found on the author’s blog. I put a lot of faith in Deb’s recipes, knowing that she repeatedly tests them in her own tiny apartment kitchen. It’s a rare Smitten Kitchen recipe that doesn’t work in my kitchen.
I finally tried her intriguing recipe for popcorn cookies, which sounds a little crazy at first, don’t you think? But whether you like salty/sweet flavor combinations, or you’re just a popcorn fan, this cookie really works. You pop some corn, pour melted butter and a good shake of salt over it, and then fold it into a buttery vanilla cookie batter. My only real complaint about the recipe is that it only makes two dozen cookies. Lesson learned–next time I’ll double it.
Buttered Popcorn Cookies
adapted slightly from The Smitten Kitchen Cookbook
1/4 cup popcorn kernels
1/4 tsp. salt
1 Tbsp. butter, melted
1/2 cup butter, softened
1/3 cup dark brown sugar
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 large egg
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp. baking soda
Heat the oven to 350 degrees F. Prepare two cookie sheets with parchment or silicone baking mats. If using nonstick cookie sheets, butter them lightly and lower the oven temperature to 325 degrees.
Put the popcorn kernels in a brown paper lunch bag and fold it down three or four times to close the bag. Microwave the popcorn on high for approximately 3 minutes, or until there are more than 3 seconds between pops (I just use the “popcorn” setting on my microwave, but still listen for the popping to stop). Pour the melted butter and salt over the popcorn in the bag, hold it closed, and shake well. Pour the buttered popcorn out onto one of the baking sheets to cool and pick out any unpopped kernels.
In a large bowl, beat the softened butter, sugars, egg and vanilla together until smooth and fluffy. In a small bowl, whisk together the flour and baking soda. Stir the flour mixture into the butter mixture until combined. Then fold the popcorn into the cookie dough (this takes a little muscle if you’re doing it by hand, but it’s easy if you use the slowest speed on the stand mixer and briefly pulse the first few turns). Some of the popcorn will break up into small pieces, but that’s okay.
Scoop heaping tablespoons of dough onto the cookie sheets (you may want to roll the balls of dough slightly in your hands to stick the dough and popcorn together) and bake for 10-12 minutes, rotating the sheets halfway through baking, until the cookies are set and slightly golden brown around the edges. Let them rest briefly before transferring them to cooling racks to cool completely.
Makes about 2 dozen cookies.
Melissa Jerves writes about food, family and 21st century home economics on her blog, Home Baked.