I know exactly what you’re thinking: buttered popcorn cookies are bizarre. Who would ever conceive of shoving popcorn into a perfectly normal cookie? Why should the cookie be so violently corrupted, you’re probably wondering. Believe me when I say I thought all of these things when I first spied these cookies on Carol Han’s site — my interest was sufficiently piqued. And after I swore that I would not purchase another cookbook this month, Deb Perelman warmed my cold, dead heart in the middle of McNally Jackson bookstore in downtown New York City.
I’ve been an ardent admirer of Deb and Smitten Kitchen for years, finding solace in the way in which she approaches cooking in the kitchen — a mixture of humility, fun and passion. Reading her posts is akin to standing in the kitchen with your big sister as she elbows you, leans in and prods you along the way. Her blog is infectious, and if she believes that a cookie deserves to be disturbed with popcorn, so be it.
And would you believe the finished product is surprisingly, shockingly, unbelievably (insert more adverbs here) delicious. Think salt and sweet with a bit of airy texture, which gives relief to a dense cookie. I found myself popping a handful of these in mouth, without apology.
INGREDIENTS: Recipe adapted from The Smitten Kitchen Cookbook, by Deb Perelman
2 tbsp grapeseed oil
1/4 cup popcorn kernels
1/4 tsp table salt
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened
1/2 cup packed light brown sugar
1/3 cup granulated sugar
1 large egg, room temperature
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp baking soda
Heat oil over medium-high heat in a large saucepan until hot. Add the kernels, and cover, shaking the pan to make sure all the kernels are in contact with the bottom of the pan. As soon as you hear the first few kernels pop, shake the pan until all of the kernels pop (5-7 minutes). Remove from heat, add salt, and transfer to bowl.
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. In a large bowl, beat together butter, sugars, egg and vanilla until smooth. Whisk flour and baking soda together. Stir flour mixture into butter-sugar mixture, until combined. Fold in popcorn, making sure to get dough well distributed. It’s okay if the popcorn breaks as you’re mixing, and don’t worry if it seems like there’s too much popcorn for the amount of dough. It all works out in the end.
Using a tablespoon measure, place fat balls of popcorn cookie dough on a parchment lined baking sheet, making sure to leave a 2 inch gap between cookies. Bake for 10-12 minutes, or until edges are golden brown. Let cool for a minute or so on the baking sheet before transferring to a rack to finish cooling.