Saturday, July 17, 2010

Cookie #35 - Iowa Popcorn Cookies

When I came across this recipe for popcorn cookies, I knew they'd be perfect for Iowa.  The recipe comes from a cookbook called Forgotten Recipes by Jaine Rodack.  The cookbook is an amazing collection of recipes from 1870 on.  There are some gems in there like Ice Box cake which is always a family favorite.

The popcorn cookies are this fantastic light and airy meringue.  They're crunchy and sweet and melt in your mouth.  I encountered two small problems when making them:  the popcorn and the cook time.

I found the presence of the hulls of the popcorn an unpleasant surprise when biting into these cookies.  Most likely, it was the type of popcorn I used.  I used a microwave popcorn and I didn't get a very good total kernel pop.  I was very careful to only select the popped corn, but it was still very hull-y.  Next time, I think I'll process the popped corn in a food processor to make sure I get an even mince.

As for the cook time, the recipe instructs you to bake the cookies a mere 7 minutes at 375 degrees F.  This is no where near enough time to properly cook the meringues.  I let the cookies rest on a cooling rack after I baked them.  They were still sticky and gooey, so I decided to do what I do with all meringues.  I lowered the oven temperature to 325 degrees and put the cookies back in.  I immediately shut off the oven and kept the cookies in overnight without opening the oven door.  When I removed them in the morning, they were the perfect light, crispy texture I'd hoped they'd be.  You can see just how light and airy they are:

See the popcorn kernel inside?  Yum!!

Iowa Popcorn Cookies

2 egg whites
2/3 cup sugar
4 tsp butter or margarine, melted
1 1/2 cup minced popped popcorn
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp vanilla
1/2 cup chopped, toasted almonds
Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.
Beat egg whites until soft peaks form.  Keep beating as you gradually add the sugar.  Beat until stiff.
In another bowl, combine butter and popcorn (I skipped this step because I used butter flavored popcorn).
Fold into egg whites.  Add vanilla and salt (I also omitted the salt).
Drop by teaspoonful onto parchment lined baking sheets. Top with toasted almonds.
Bake for 7 minutes.

If they don't turn out crispy, you can do what I described above:  lower the oven temperature to 325 degrees F.  Return cookies to the cooler oven and immediately shut the oven off.  Leave the cookies in the oven overnight - NO PEEKING!! 

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