We often find ourselves in need of a thoughtful thank-you gift—something small yet personal that will show our appreciation for a teacher, colleague, or host. And while there are of course wonderful options available at our local gift stores, sometimes a homemade present feels in order. Enter: the following recipes for gourmet popcorn, courtesy of Caitlin Steininger, chef and co-owner of Cooking with Caitlin, an online food destination and restaurant based in Cincinnati, Ohio. For a festive presentation, Cooking with Caitlin co-owner Kelly Trush recommends wrapping each batch in spirited packaging, tying on a bow, and attaching a handwritten note; we also recommend making an extra batch (or two) for yourself. Here’s how to make the sweet and savory snacks at home.


Cooking with Caitlin’s Gourmet Popcorn

Yields approximately 2 cups

Ingredients:

For the popcorn:

    • 1/4 cup popcorn kernels
    • 1 brown lunch bag
    • Tape

For the chocolate and peanut butter version:

  • 2 tablespoons dark chocolate chips
  • 2 tablespoons peanut butter chips

For the cinnamon and sugar version:

  • 1/4 cup powdered sugar
  • 1 tablespoon cinnamon

For the butter and herb version:

  • 2 tablespoons salted butter
  • 1 tablespoon fresh chopped herbs (like rosemary)
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • Salt (optional)
  • Parmesan (optional)

Instructions:

For the chocolate and peanut butter popcorn, place the popcorn kernels in the brown paper bag. Fold the top portion of the bag over, and tape shut. Microwave the bag of kernels for one and a half minutes, then remove the popcorn from the microwave, open the bag, add the chips, close the bag again, and cook for another minute. When the popcorn is finished cooking, shake vigorously until the popcorn is coated with the chocolate and peanut butter.

For the cinnamon and sugar popcorn, place the popcorn kernels in the brown paper bag. Fold the top portion of the bag over, and tape shut. Microwave the bag of kernels for two to two and a half minutes, or until the popcorn is popped. After the popcorn is finished cooking, open the bag and add the powdered sugar and cinnamon. Close the bag again and shake until all of the popcorn is seasoned.

For the butter and herb popcorn, combine the butter and freshly chopped herbs in a small bowl. Cover and melt together in the microwave. Place the popcorn kernels in the brown paper bag. Fold the top portion of the bag over, and tape shut. Microwave the bag of kernels for two to two and a half minutes, or until the popcorn is popped. When the popcorn is finished, toss with the melted herb butter and season with black pepper. Add salt if needed, and freshly grated Parmesan for even more flavor.

Recipe courtesy of Cooking with Caitlin. Cooking with Caitlin is featured in The Scout Guide Cincinnati.