When my sister and I were little Nanny, our maternal grandmother, would often have us for an overnight visit. One of the highlights of these visits was a special treat that we called "pink popcorn", which really does no justice to this sweet, salty and crunchy affair. We'd get ready for bed while Nan made the popcorn, then we'd close down the kitchen and take the popcorn to the living room, where we'd watch the Love Boat or whatever else might be on television, while Nan knit or crocheted.
A few years ago Nan gave me the recipe, and for some inexplicable reason I finally got around to making it this afternoon. And while I know time travel does not exist, let me just say that the minute I tasted this again I could practically feel myself sitting there on the couch in my flannel nightie, sitting next to my little sister with a bowl of popcorn in between us, with Nan sitting in the chair with her legs tucked up under her, yarn in her lap and instructions balanced on the arm of the chair. Powerful stuff, this is.
A few things about the recipe: first, I used a bag of microwave popcorn and it turned out just fine; second, you have to use butter - margarine won't work; third, any color food coloring will do, but once we had Nan make it blue and we swore it tasted different; fourth, as with anything involving hot boiling sugar be extremely careful, this is not a kid-friendly recipe; fifth, if kids are going to eat this, it might be worth the extra time to pick out the unpopped kernels; sixth, you have been warned, this stuff is like crack for anyone with a sweet tooth.
4-6 cups popped popcorn
1 cup sugar
1/4 cup water
1 1/2 tablespoons butter
a couple drops of red food coloring
Powdered sugar (confectioner's sugar)
Spread the popped popcorn in a lightly greased shallow pan. In a saucepan, combine the sugar, water, butter and food coloring and bring to a boil while stirring. Boil until the soft ball stage (230-240 degrees). Gradually pour the syrup over the popcorn and stir until there is even coverage (it will get sticky). Sprinkle powdered sugar on top while it's all still warm. Let it cool a bit before eating - but not too long, as its best while still slightly warm. It will allegedly keep for a few days in an airtight container, but honestly? We've never had any leftovers.
Someone asked for a photo -- I suspect this will look like a bowl of popcorn to most people but if you look really hard, there's a hint of pink. I could have used another drop or two of food coloring.