Maybe it’s the college football parties, the trick-or-treating, or the endless grazing before Thanksgiving dinner, but snacks and fall just seem to go together. Popcorn is a very old harvest snack, prepared in the new world long before Columbus ever arrived. This sweet popcorn is delicious and uses another New World food—the peanut, along with healthy honey. Try it and see how sweet fall snacking can be.
Prepare a clean paper shopping bag or oversized mixing bowl. Heat a large heavy pan over medium heat and thinly film the bottom with vegetable oil. Add the popcorn, shake to distribute, then, put a lid on the pan. Leave a small crack for steam to escape. When the popcorn starts popping, shake vigorously to make sure the kernels pop evenly. When the popping slows, take the pan off the heat.
Pour the popcorn into the paper bag or bowl to cool, being careful to leave any unpopped kernels in the pan. Lightly salt the popcorn to taste. Mix the honey and sugar in a small saucepan and bring to a full boil. Let the mixture simmer for about 2 minutes, then remove from the heat and add the peanut butter. Stir vigorously until all the peanut butter is melted, then mix in the vanilla.
Immediately pour the peanut butter caramel over the popcorn and stir with a long-handled wooden spoon until it’s all coated. (For the paper bag, close the top tightly, and shake vigorously to mix.) Once it is mixed pour into a serving bowl. Allow to cool before serving. Yield: about 8 cups.