Ever since I first tasted Chicago-based Garrett’s popcorn many years ago, I have wanted to create some yummy variety myself. Being the peanut butter fanatic that I am, I thought it would be the most delicious idea ever. So I started off with a recipe I had saved in my favorite for about a year— http://www.the-girl-who-ate-everything.com/2010/11/peanut-butter-popcorn.html I followed the recipe to a T, except I omitted the peanuts. I took caution to not boil the mixture too long, I poured it over the popcorn and made sure every crunchy kernel was coated. I tried it warm and at room temperature and the results were the same– chewy, taffy-like popcorn. In my mind- a total failure. I immediately remembered the warning in the recipe “do not boil too long or popcorn will be rock hard” and thought, I shouldn’t have followed the recipe.
Defeated and heartbroken determined, I searched for another recipe.
The picture posted with the recipe http://www.tasteofhome.com/recipes/Peanut-Butter-Popcorn gave me hope that the five minutes of boil time would result in a crunchy- yet not tooth breaking exterior infused with the unmatchable flavor of peanut butter. I followed these directions with out any changes and the results were the same. I decided to take matters into my own hands. I turned my oven on 250 and decided I would bake this second batch in increments and stir every 15 minutes or so. These actions gave me ugly popcorn and medium flavor, but a crunch (a little too much of a crunch.) I was getting somewhere, so next I went in search of a recipe that required baking- I knew that was a necessary step to lead me to my desired destination.
I finally unearthed this recipe ( http://bakewithjill.com/2010/01/06/peanut-butter-caramel-corn/ ) that included baking soda which reminded me of an ingredient in caramel corn, as well as a boiling & and a baking step. My hopes were began to bubble as I set out to master this not-as-easy-as-I-thought mission. Below is the popcorn before I put it in the oven.
This recipe yielded the most beautiful kernels, they were gentle to the teeth :), but they did not offer the peanut butter explosion I had been laboring for days to create. I think, if I do this again, what is missing is peanut butter chips and white chocolate drizzles added after the popcorn bakes. But for a less complicated route, this proves the old saying true- the third time is the charm!
**For ease, I baked the popcorn in those large disposable, aluminum pans. I found them at the dollar store.