CARAMEL POPCORN BROWNIES
Like most who grew up in the South Jersey suburbs of Philadelphia, I have countless memories of spending long summer days down the shore.
For those unfamiliar, South Jersey shore towns, from Cape May to Long Beach Island, are picturesque summer-only beach towns, each with their own unique personality, crowd and pizza spot. And though there are passionate debates on which shore town reigns supreme, where everyone’s personal opinion is emblazoned on their beach tag, the common thread that runs through all of them is the summer treats. Kohr Bros. Soft Serve (small vanilla cone with rainbow sprinkles, please), Salt Water Taffy, The Fudge Kitchen and Johnson’s Caramel Popcorn storefronts are conveniently located about 50 feet apart up and down the SJ coast.
My fondest childhood summer memories are nights walking down the Ocean City boardwalk with my 4 siblings, all freshly showered in shorts, new hooded sweatshirts and flip flops. There’d always be a bucket of Johnson’s popcorn split between us, passed around until it was completely empty, despite the fact that all of us claim we don’t really even like caramel popcorn and we all just finished a Kohr Bros. cone.
Caramel Popcorn will always take me back to those Jersey Shore summer nights, even when I’m eating it out of a giant “Happy Holidays” tin. So, when I made these brownies with the leftover Christmas caramel popcorn, I immediately wanted to skip ahead 5 months.
These brownies are in between fudgy and cakey. The popcorn adds a bit of a crunch, depending on how fine you crush the popcorn (I recommend leaving in some bigger pieces). But be aware, just like a bucket of popcorn will leave you with kernels in your teeth-so will these brownies.
Caramel Popcorn Brownies
Makes 1 ½ dozen brownies
¾ cup caramel popcorn
4 ounces semi sweet chocolate
¾ cup unsalted butter
1 1/3 cup sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 teaspoon Kosher salt
½ cup all purpose flour
Preheat oven to 350F and grease a 9in x 13in baking pan.
Place caramel popcorn in a gallon storage bag and crush with a rolling pin until popcorn is broken down into large crumbs. Set aside.
Melt chocolate and butter together in the microwave or on the stovetop over low heat. Transfer to a large mixing bowl and mix until combined.
Add sugar and vanilla extract and mix gently until combined.
Add eggs, one at time, and mix on a medium speed until combined between each addition.
Add salt, crushed caramel popcorn and flour and mix until just combined. Batter will be thick and the popcorn crumbs will be visible.
Pour batter into baking dish and bake for 30 to 35 minutes or until brownies are set.
Allow to cool completely before cutting into squares to serve.