buttered popcorn butterscotch cookies

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Let’s all just stop for a moment and take a deep breath. Now exhale. Maybe I speak just for myself, but I’m pretty sure everybody needed that.

Now we can talk about cookies. We like cookies around here. But they don’t happen very often. Luckily for us, my friend Marilen coordinates a quarterly cookie swap with a handful of the girls in the office. And so this week we have cookies.

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Because it’s so close to Halloween, I wanted to do a really fun, lighthearted cookie. Yes, I did just say that. Let me explain. I feel like there is a cookie fit for every occasion. In my mind, anything with dark chocolate or really good cocoa powder is more suitable for a grown-up gathering, rather than a bunch of kiddos. And macarons are perfect for something fancy, like a tea party or a bridal shower. And a good ole chocolate chip cookie is the right cookie for anyone that needs some comforting. I really spend a lot of time thinking about this kind of stuff. What can I say? This is straight from the mind of a crazy person.

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Anyway, I remembered a buttered popcorn cookie I had seen while flipping through The Smitten Kitchen Cookbook a few weeks back and I knew I was onto something. But I felt like it needed a little something to really make it pop. At first I thought bittersweet chocolate. Then white chocolate crossed my mind for a split second, though I’m not such a fan of white chocolate. And then it occurred to me – buttered popcorn + butterscotch chips = fun and delish (fundelicious!). I was certain I had found the winning combination.

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You guys, this is a really good cookie. It’s the first popcorn cookie I’ve ever had – popcorn in a cookie is mind blowing stuff. These cookies are strangely addictive. Some pieces of popcorn are crisp while others get a little soft, but in a good way. Kind of like those slightly stale bricks of Wright’s Pink Popcorn that I absolutely adore. Buttered popcorn, combined with sweet butterscotch chips in a buttery cookie dough; I don’t know how to describe it other than it’s like sweet, magical buttery butteriness. And there you go.

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buttered popcorn butterscotch cookies 

adapted from The Smitten Kitchen Cookbook by Deb Perelman

makes 24 cookies

2 tablespoons vegetable oil 

1/4 cup popcorn kernels 

1/4 kosher teaspoon salt 

1 tablespoon butter, melted 

1/2 cup butter, softened 

1/2 cup packed light brown sugar 

1/3 cup granulated sugar

1 large egg 

1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract 

1-1/4 cups all-purpose flour 

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1/4 teaspoon kosher salt 

1/2 cup butterscotch chips

*alternately, you can substitute the first 4 ingredients with 4-1/2 cups popped microwave popcorn 

Pour the oil over the bottom of a large saucepan that had a lid. Add the popcorn kernels, shaking the pan around so the kernels arein one layer. Cover the pot and heat it over medium-high heat. Once the kernels start to  pop, keep the sauce pan moving until all the kernels have popped and you no longer hear popping, about 5 to 7 minutes total. Pour the melted butter and 1/4 teaspoon salt over the popcorn and toss. Transfer the popcorn to a bowl and remove any unpopped kernels. You should have 4 to 4-1/2 cups popcorn. Let cool.

Preheat your oven to 350F. In a large bowl, cream together the softened butter, brown sugar, granulated sugar, egg,  and vanilla until smooth. In a separate bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda, and salt. Stir the dry ingredients into the butter mixture. Fold the butterscotch chips and popcorn into the batter until it is evenly distributed throughout. Don’t worry if the popcorn breaks up a bit.

Scoop heaping tablespoons of dough onto a parchment-lined baking sheet, leaving 2 inches between each cookie. Bake the cookies for 10-12 minutes, until the edges are light brown. Let them sit on the hot baking sheet for a few minutes to firm up before transferring them to a rack to cool.

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concord grape cornmeal cake

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October feels like crazytown. I’m not sure exactly what’s happening, but it feels like everything is happening all at once. There’s definitely something in the air right now. Even Susan Miller says so. Fasten your seatbelts, it’s going to be a bumpy one.

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On a lighter note, we have Concord grapes. I’m sure I’ve gone on and on about Concord grapes around here at some point. They’re one of the things I look most forward to when the fall produce hits the markets. They’re not much of an eating grape (too soft for my liking and too many seeds), but they are great for baking and cooking. And boy are they flavorful. I started making my own Concord grape jam a few years ago and never looked back. The scent of Concord grapes boiling away on the stove is seriously heavenly. There’s nothing like it.

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I made this cake for the first time last year but never got around to sharing it. I made it again the other day and remembered exactly why I liked it so much. It’s a dressed up skillet cornbread, honey-kissed with a touch of lemon and a scattering of Concord grapes. Those jammy pockets of Concord grape really make it into something special. I especially like it served warm, with a cup of tea. It’s the perfect afternoon snack cake. It feels like fall.

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concord grape cornmeal cake 

adapted just barely from Bon Appetit

serves 8-10

2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted, cooled slightly, plus more

1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour; more for grapes

1/2 cup yellow cornmeal

1 teaspoon baking powder

1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

2 large eggs

1/2 cup sugar

1 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest

1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

1/4 cup vegetable oil

6 tablespoons buttermilk

2 tablespoons honey

3/4 pound Concord grapes (or black grapes), stemmed, seeds removed, divided 

Preheat oven to 350°F. Butter a 9-inch cast iron skillet (or an 8x8x2-inch baking dish). Whisk 1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons flour, cornmeal, baking powder, and salt in a medium bowl; set aside. Whisk eggs, sugar, lemon zest, and vanilla in a large bowl to combine. Add oil and 2 tablespoons melted butter; whisk to blend. Whisk in flour mixture, then buttermilk. Stir in honey, being careful not to fully incorporate

Pour batter into prepared skillet. Toss about 2/3 of grapes with a large pinch of flour in a medium bowl until well coated. Scatter over cake batter.

Bake until cake turns light golden brown around the edges and starts to set, 15-17 minutes. Remove from oven and scatter remaining grapes over cake. Continue to bake until top is golden brown and cake springs back when pressed, 20-25 minutes longer. Transfer to a wire rack. Let cool slightly in pan. Serve warm or at room temperature.