Toffee popcorn is sweet and sticky. It is fully compatible with films, both at home and at the cinema. Its sticky nature helps prevents loss due to spillage, making it more economical than other popcorn flavours. It is easy to buy, being sold in many supermarkets and cinema shops. However, such toffee popcorn is inferior and far more expensive than the homemade version. To make the perfect toffee popcorn, follow these simple instructions.
This is a simple process, and there are many different methods.
Microwaveable popcorn - This is really shop-bought popcorn in disguise. It comes in the form of unpopped popcorn in a bag, which is placed in the microwave for a couple of minutes and come out fully-popped. The quantities are generally pathetic and the popcorn is slightly soggy.
Using a popcorn maker - This is cheating. Popcorn makers generally consist of a little tray to be filled with popcorn. Then the machine is turned on and shortly after popped popcorn flies out the spout. It is a good idea to hold a large bowl under the spout, or you will end up with popcorn all over the floor. This generally happens anyway, but at least you can feel that you have made an effort. If you become an expert in catching low-flying popcorn from the popcorn maker, then you can pride yourself in a healthier (but only slightly) alternative to oil-cooked popcorn.
The pan method - This is how popcorn should be cooked. Pour oil into the base of the saucepan to make a layer 0.5-1cm thick (enough to cover the popcorn once in the pan). Heat the oil to near-smoking point and then add the corn so that it forms a layer 1-2 grains deep. Put on the lid (it is amazing how many people leave out this stage). Shake the pan so that the corn becomes coated in the oil. Using a medium heat, wait. After a couple of minutes the corn should be popping away. Once the popping subsides, carefully shake and leave for a few more seconds. Once the popping quietens down again turn off the heat. You don't want burnt popcorn. Very little of the oil will end up in the popcorn, its purpose is just to heat it. Most the oil will remain in the bottom of the pan with the unpopped corn.
And Now for the Sauce
Whichever method you have chosen, you now have some nice fresh popcorn, ready for the addition of toffee sauce. This is incredibly easy to make. The exact quantities are not important. It will turn out as sweet sticky goo whatever you do.
Put a chunk (about 50g) of butter in a pan.
Add about 4 heaped tablespoons of soft brown sugar (demerera or turbinado is best). Do not use white sugar or it will be spoilt.
Add 2-3 tablespoons of golden syrup. To stop the syrup from sticking to the spoon, heat the spoon over a flame for a couple of seconds first. It works wonders. An alternative method of spoon-heating is to pour the water of a freshly boiled kettle onto the spoon, while keeping your hands protected by the likes of an oven mit. If you haven't any golden syrup then don't despair. As a last resort there is treacle, but it doesn't really work. In the unlikely event that you haven't got any treacle or golden syrup, then you could experiment with maple syrup. This is less viscous so less sugar should be used with maple syrup.
Stir together at a medium heat until the butter is completely melted, and all the sugar has dissolved.
Now you have made the popcorn and the toffee sauce, you need to put them together. This must be done while the sauce is still hot and liquid.
Put the popcorn into a large mixing bowl.
Drizzle the toffee sauce over the top.
Stir some more.
Stop stirring if the sauce has now cooled to a degree where it is no longer runny and is setting, if not go back to stage three.
Leave until is cool enough to eat. (This fortunately is only a few minutes).
Stirring is very important. If the stirring is not done for long enough then the toffee sauce tends to form a sticky layer at the base of the bowl. In some ways, this can be a good thing, providing you with a lovely gooey dip for your popcorn. By changing the quantities of syrup and sugar, the sauce can be made more sticky or more runny. You should perform experiments to find your preferred viscosity.
Unless something went horribly wrong, you should by this stage be the proud owner of homemade toffee popcorn. It is best to eat quickly, or you will find that someone has eaten it for you.