Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Tiny But Mighty Popcorn Prepared Three Ways

Tiny But Mighty Popcorn 3 Ways: Caramel, Kettle, & Salted
The real, live bag of popcorn.  Okay, not live, but real.

I've mentioned this Tiny But Mighty Popcorn in a previous post about different sizes of popcorn, but I love this one brand so much, AND it's available in the grocery stores here in Des Moines, that I thought I needed to devote an entire post to this Iowa treasure.  I'm making this popcorn three different ways today: popped in canola oil, kettle corn, and caramel corn.  (Take note, this popcorn didn't do well in my air popper.  Only half the kernels popped, and the ones that did tasted burned.)
In the other post, I mentioned the Amish Country Popcorn, that is even tinier than the TBM popcorn, but like I said, this is easier to get, and it tastes just as good.  Just not as tiny.  Besides its charming size, this popcorn tastes great just popped in some canola oil and then lightly salted.  My friend Karla uses the fine setting on her sea salt grinder, and it tastes even better.  It's a nice, clean, crisp, salty taste; plus, it's a variety that has a disintegrating hull.  So, after it's popped, you're not left with those strange shells that get stuck in your teeth (or tonsils in my case--eew).
If you're interested in this popcorn, but don't live in around Iowa, you can order TBM popcorn online, but it's kind of pricey.  If you live in the Des Moines, Iowa, area, HyVee and Dahls carry the brand in most stores, but Dahls has better prices.  I got my 1.5 pound bag for $3.19 at Dahls the other day, and I've seen it at HyVee for as much as $5.89.  
So, here are three different recipes to go with the three different ways to enjoy this tiny popcorn.  Have fun!

Regular Salted Popcorn
#1 Regular Popcorn


  • 2-3 tablespoons canola oil
  • 1/2 cup popcorn kernels
  • 2-4 tablespoons butter (optional)
  • salt to taste
Place oil in a heavy bottomed two quart pot with a fitted lid.  Place one or two kernels of popcorn in the the oil.  Heat oil over medium-high heat until popcorn turns a lighter, almost white color.  Pour in remaining popcorn and cover with the lid.  You actually don't have to shake the pot the entire time, but you can if it makes you feel better.  When the popping starts to slow, then shake for sure.  When popcorn is only popping about one per second, it's time to remove from heat, uncover, and pour into a large bowl.  If you want butter, place the butter in the hot pan and swirl around until melted and pour evenly over popcorn.  Toss.  Salt a little at a time and taste to see if you need more.

Colored Kettle Corn
#2 Kettle Corn 


  • 1/2 cup popcorn kernels
  • 3-4 tablespoons white sugar
  • canola oil for popping
  • salt to taste
In a heavy 5-quart pot, heat the oil over medium-high heat. Add the popcorn kernels and sugar. Cover and shake until the popping is just about done. Don't leave it on for too long, or the sugar will burn and taste terrible. Pour into a metal or ceramic bowl (plastic will melt) and stir/toss until cool to the touch. Sprinkle with a little salt and stir/toss; taste and repeat until you like the level of saltiness.
*If you want colored kettle corn, I suggest you purchase some food color gel.  I like this kind because of its easy squeeze bottle.  For each color I squeezed in one large drop of gel right after putting in the sugar.  The water in the gel will make the oil spit, so it's best to put the sugar in first so it can absorb the gel.  Once you start shaking, the color gets evenly distributed.

Caramel Corn
#3 Caramel Corn


  • 1 C brown sugar
  • 1 stick butter
  • 1/4 C light corn syrup
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1/2 tsp. baking soda
  • 4-8 quarts popped popcorn 
(Note: if you're using the tiny popcorn, don't use an air popper.  Pop in canola oil.  If you're going to use regular sized popcorn, go a head and use air popped popcorn.  Save a few calories.)

Preheat oven to 250°.
Combine brown sugar, butter, corn syrup & salt in a medium to large microwavable dish. Microwave on high until butter is mostly melted and then stir to combine ingredients. Bring to a boil by cooking on high for about 2 minutes. Remove and add baking soda. 
Put naked popcorn into a huge bowl. Pour above syrup stuff over popcorn and mix thoroughly. Spread popcorn onto two non-stick cookie sheets. Bake at 250° for 1 hour, stirring every 15 minutes, rotating pans between top and bottom shelves. Remove from oven; stir immediately. Stir occasionally while cooling. Store in an airtight container.

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