The ultimate crispy, chewy, sweet and salty cookie. Made with homemade caramel popcorn, this irresistible cookie has all the things you want in a perfect treat.
Just when you thought cookie season was over…I’m baaaccckk with another winning recipe that you never knew you needed. Not even kidding when I say you haven’t lived until you’ve tasted one of these totally irresistible, ridiculously delicious, salty-meets-sweet caramel popcorn cookies. Yep. You heard that right. Caramel. Popcorn. Cookies.
These cookies are seriously over the moon delicious and we have master baker Joanne Chang to thank for them. Ever since I first eyed this recipe in Joanne Chang’s new cookbook, Pastry Love, I’ve been wondering to myself, “now why didn’t I think of that?”. This recipe actually comes from one of Joanne’s pastry chefs who took caramel popcorn, one of my favorite childhood treats, and plopped it into a buttery, brown sugar cookie. How brilliant is that??
That’s one smart cookie if you ask me.
Joanne Chang is a James Beard Award Winning Baker and owner of Flour Bakery. This is her fifth cookbook and let me tell you….it is a baker’s dream! Filled with beautiful, delectable pastries, Joanne offers up her tried and true tips for the home baker. Each recipe is written so clearly that even first time croissant makers will succeed. Joanne’s book reads more like a journal than a cookbook and her passion for baking shines through with every detail. This baker’s guide features a long list delicious treats you can’t wait to bake and share and the stunning photography makes you want to run to the kitchen, tie on an apron, and get baking!
One look at this book and you’ll see why I had a heck of time deciding which recipe to bake first. With drool-worthy recipes like Nutella Babka, Malted Chocolate Cake and Lemon Cream Tart, I was swooning with the turn of each and every page. But ultimately I settled on these caramel popcorn cookies because they were a) relatively quick to make and b) caramel + popcorn + cookies = OMG!!
Seriously. These are the greatest thing since sliced bread. No joke.
HOW TO MAKE THE BEST CARAMEL POPCORN COOKIES
Homemade popcorn is key. Sure, you can save some time and pick up a bag of store bought popcorn. But fresh is best so I say make your own. Popping your own kernels takes mere minutes and it’s totally worth it. Warning: this caramel popcorn is highly addictive so be sure to hide it from yourself while it’s cooling so you have enough left over for the cookies. The struggle is real!
Use room temperature butter and eggs. This should be rule numero uno, but you know the drill by now. For best results, be sure your butter is nice and soft, but not melted.
Under bake the cookies. The directions for this recipe call for 12-15 minutes of baking time. I like a soft, slightly chewy cookie over a crunchy, super crispy cookie. To achieve that melt in your mouth texture, simply under bake the cookies by a couple of minutes. They’ll be perfectly soft and they’re even dreamier the next day if you can believe it!
Caramel popcorn and cookies are a total match made in heaven and I’m thinking these cookies are the perfect treat for movie night. I’m going to sign off to make another batch because there isn’t a single morsel left over from the first round – they’re just that good!!
- 1 TBSP vegetable oil (I use canola oil)
- ¼ cup unpopped popcorn kernels
- ½ cup (1 stick) unsalted butter
- ½ cup light brown sugar, firmly packed
- ⅛ tsp baking soda
- ⅛ tsp kosher salt
- 14 TBSP unsalted butter, room temperature
- 1⅓ cups light brown sugar, firmly packed
- 1 large egg, room temperature
- 2 tsp pure vanilla extract
- 2 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 tsp baking powder
- ½ tsp baking soda
- 1 tsp kosher salt, divided
- 6 cups caramel popcorn
- flakey sea salt for sprinkling (optional)
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
- Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Set aside.
- In a large pot with a lid, heat oil over high heat until hot.
- Add popcorn kernels, place lid on pot and reduce heat to medium high.
- Shake the pot every few seconds. Once you hear the popcorn begin to pop, shake the pot constantly. The popping will slow down to once every few seconds. Remove from heat and continue shaking the pot.
- Transfer the popcorn into a large bowl, removing any uncooked kernels.
- Place the same pot on the stovetop and add butter and brown sugar.
- Melt the butter over high heat, it will get foamy and turn a deeper caramel color.
- Bring to a boil, stirring with a wooden spoon for one minute until the mixture turns a deep, maple syrup color and smells aromatic.
- Remove the pot from heat and immediately stir in the baking soda and salt.
- Put all of the cooked popcorn in the pot and stir until popcorn is evenly coated and then transfer to the prepared cookie sheet.
- Bake for 15 minutes, checking at 12 minutes to be sure popcorn has not browned too quickly.
- Remove from the oven to cool slightly. Popcorn will harden as it cools.
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees
- Line two baking sheets with parchment paper and set aside.
- In a medium bowl, combine flour, baking powder, baking soda and ½ tsp of kosher salt. Set aside.
- In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, cream the butter and brown sugar on medium high speed until light and fluffy. This should take about 5 minutes.
- Reduce the speed to low and add the egg and vanilla.
- Mix on low speed until combined.
- Add the flour mixture to the butter mixture in two additions and mix on low speed until barely combined. A few streaks of flour should remain.
- Add the popcorn and mix on low speed until combined.
- Using a medium cookie scoop, place the batter onto the prepared baking sheets, leaving 2 inches between each cookie as they will spread a bit.
- Bake 12 -15 minutes in the center rack of the oven, rotating the pan halfway through.
- Cookie are done when edges are golden brown and centers are just barely set.
- Remove from the oven and let the cookies cool on the pan for 5-10 minutes before transferring to a cooling rack.
Cookie dough can be stored in the refrigerator for up to one week.
Store baked cookies in an airtight container in a cool, dry place for 3 days.
Find Pastry Love, by Joanne Chang, on my list of Ten Best Cookbooks for Holiday Gifts. Pastry Love is available for purchase here. Thank you to Dart Frogg Communications and Houghton Mifflin Harcourt for the advance copy.
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