At least once a month we’d have movie nights, and the whole tribe of us would pile into the TV room. I’m sure there was more than one bruise over the battle to get one of the precious few couch seats! (Sorry, younger siblings, but the older siblings get the couch! Rules are rules, even if we made them up, we WILL sit on you until you relinquish the seat!)
We were raised on the classics. I’ve probably seen Singing in the Rain as much, if not more than Aladdin. My younger brother went through a phase where he’d sit and watch Seven Brides for Seven Brothers on repeat all day every day if we’d let him. Casablanca will always be one of my favourites.
Even now that we’re all grown up and moved out, movies are still the thing that unite us. In fact, they’re probably the only thing we can all agree on! All it takes is a suggestion during one of our now-infrequent entire family dinners to start an avalanche of favourite quotes and we all once again pile in front of the TV. (Seating is still an issue!)
The only thing that could make those movies better is when our mother emerged from the kitchen with enormous bowls of freshly popped popcorn, still hot to the touch, a rare treat.
I’ve never thought anything could beat just plain buttered popcorn.
Until one of my brothers introduced me to the Frankenstein’s Monster of Popcorn: Chicago Style Popcorn (Is it from Chicago? I don’t know! My version of this recipe has been heavily adapted from Sally’s Baking Addiction)
It’s possibly the most ridiculous thing my pursuit of sweet and salty has led me to.
It sounds gross. I know. It sounds weird and unnatural and blasphemous, like garlic ice cream.
But it’s SO GOOD!
What is it made of, you ask, well, popcorn, caramel and… cheese.
Yup. It sounds weird. I was also skeptical.
Ladies and gentlemen, I am a convert. In fact, I don’t know if I’ll ever be able to eat plain popcorn again! It’s amazing. A revelation. I want to shout this combo from the rooftops because it has changed movie nights forever!
The first thing you want to do is make your caramel. In a pot on the stove, heat your honey and brown sugar, stirring occasionally and bringing it to a boil.
Let it boil for three minutes, until its all bubbly and delicious. Make sure to keep stirring! Then turn off the heat, give it a stir to make sure all the bubbles are out and it’s a beautiful, smooth, rich amber colour. Let it sit for a minute or two so you won’t hurt yourself pouring it over the popcorn! (Pro-tip, wash the pot and spoon as soon as they’ve cooled off enough to do it safely, this stuff is like glue once it’s hard!)
Pop your popcorn, either the plain, un-buttered kind from a bag (or my favourite, air-popped!).
Once it’s all popped, put it in a bowl and drizzle that caramel all over the popcorn. Do it quick because once this stuff sticks, that’s it, it’s all over! (Not really, if it’s too thick just heat it up a bit!)
Now pour the popcorn onto a parchment-covered baking tray, and spread it out as best you can with a spatula. Be very careful, it’s very hot and VERY sticky!
Sprinkle the cheese over top while everything is still sticky!
Let that sit for a couple of minutes to allow the caramel to cool and harden. It’ll be all clumpy and delicious!
Then either eat it straight from the pan (I dare you not to sneak a bite or two!), or separate it into bowls.
….orrrr just pour it into one big bowl….
- 1/2 cup popcorn kernels (follow the directions for oil or butter for your popper, ours needs about 2 Tbsp vegetable oil) OR 1 bag plain popcorn
- 1/4 cup brown sugar
- 1/4 cup honey
- 1/8 cup white cheddar cheese powder (Canadians, the one from Bulk Barn is nightshade free!)
In a pot on the stove, melt the brown sugar and honey over medium heat, and bring to a boil, stirring frequently.
Let boil for about 3 minutes, continuing to stir. Then remove from heat, stir again to remove the bubbles and let sit for 1-2 minutes to cool slightly. (BE CAREFUL! This caramel is very sticky and hot, don't burn yourself!)
Pop the popcorn, and place in a large bowl.
Pour the caramel over the popcorn, making sure to stir (as best you can) so it is relatively evenly distributed.
Spread the popcorn over a parchment covered baking sheet.
Sprinkle the cheese over the top.
Let the popcorn and caramel cool and harden, and then eat!