Food + Drink

Snack obsession: Maple pepper popcorn.

maple pepper popcorn

When people ask what my favorite food is (um, all of them?), I usually say one of three things: Bagels, kale…or popcorn. I’m a greedy popcorn freak. To quote Evan, “The only way I get to eat popcorn is if Anna isn’t in the room.” Before I make popcorn, I always ask if Evan wants any, and, if so, exactly how much he plans to eat. If I think he’s going over the agreed upon amount, I’ll give him a side-eye and ask if he wants his own bowl.

Yeah, I’m kind of a jerk when it comes to popcorn.

I make it reeeeeeally good, though. Until last year I always either popped it in olive or peanut oil, but now I’m a total devotee of coconut oil. It does lend a very mild, barely-discernible coconut flavor to the popcorn, but not enough to make you feel like you’re eating suntan lotion. Sometimes I just sprinkle on a little salt, other times liquid aminos and nutritional yeast, or if I’m getting really fancy, crumbled up kale chips and cayenne pepper. Lately, though, this is my snack obsession—Maple Pepper popcorn. So yummy.

Maple Pepper Popcorn (vegan)
Serves 2 (but let’s be honest here, this is how much I make for just myself)

1 tbsp coconut oil
1/4 cup popcorn kernels
1 tsp Earth Balance
Maple Pepper

In a small pot with a tight-fitting lid, melt the coconut oil over medium-high heat. Pour in the popcorn kernels, stir to coat and put the lid on. Get excited when the corn starts to pop, but listen carefully—when you hear that there are more than 2 seconds between pops, turn the heat off. Pour the popcorn into a big bowl, then put the Earth Balance in the empty pot. No need to turn the heat back on, the pot will still be hot enough. Pour the melted Earth Balance over the popcorn, and sprinkle liberally (and I mean liberally) with Maple Pepper.

If you’re alone in the room when you finish, lick the bowl.

Oh, and about that Maple Pepper

maple pepper

What’s Maple Pepper, you say? Glad you asked. I hadn’t heard of Maple Pepper until I saw a photo of a jar on Jen’s Instagram. It was a gift to her from Tamera. When Jen discovered I share her intense love of all things maple, she sent me two jars (one for the house and one for the apartment, of course). Now I need to choose a friend to give some to. We’re all paying it forward with Maple Pepper.

I’m so in love with this stuff. It’s a blend of pure maple sugar, black pepper, sea salt and citric acid. The resulting flavor is, obviously, both maple-y and peppery, but the saltiness is definitely noticeable, as is the citric acid, which comes across like a very very subtle hint of lemon. It’s faaaaaabulous, and I put it on (and in) EVERYTHING: Popcorn, toast, coffee, tea, ice cream, Brussels sprouts, spiced almond milk, tofu scramble, kale chips, baked sweet potatoes…everything. Maple Pepper is just always the right thing. It comes in other flavors (Garlic! Habanero!), too. I’ve only tried the original so far, but I’ll be branching out soon. I bet they ALL taste good on popcorn.

That nifty tea towel is the work of the incredibly talented Shanna Murray. Both the towel and the popcorn bowl were purchased at West Elm…and both have since been discontinued, unfortunately.

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  • Reply Ryann Moore January 15, 2013 at 12:43 pm

    I think I may need to be trying both this and the spiced almond milk, the cold weather is just begging me to! Have you heard if Maple Pepper is sold in any nationwide stores, such as Whole Foods, or is it only available online or at the Highland Food Store?

  • Reply Katie January 15, 2013 at 12:49 pm

    Anna, you should try Maple Cream! It’s like Nutella texture and Maple Syrup flavor.

    • Anna @ D16 January 15, 2013 at 12:52 pm

      Yes, I love maple cream! 🙂

  • Reply Jenn January 15, 2013 at 12:50 pm

    Can I truly be Canadian, and not ever heard of Maple Pepper? Everything is better with maple (this much I know is true). Just the thought of adding maple to my popcorn has got me in a tizzy. Can’t wait for this evening. Thanks for the tip!

    • Anna @ D16 January 15, 2013 at 12:55 pm

      It seems to be a Maine thing, Jenn! We have a lot of maple syrup production in upstate NY, too, and I’d never heard of it either.

    • Sam January 20, 2013 at 3:38 pm

      It’s popular in eastern Canada (Nova Scotia)

  • Reply jenn @ beyond the stoop January 15, 2013 at 12:58 pm

    i tried making popcorn in a pot once, just like this but with vegetable oil, and the oil became ROCK HARD onto the pan, and i never was able to get it off… suggestions!? i was so sad, because i didn’t want microwave popcorn, and i couldn’t afford a popcorn maker, let alone have room for it in my tiny apartment in hoboken…

    cheers, this sounds so good though 🙂

    • Anna @ D16 January 15, 2013 at 1:13 pm

      Hmmm. I’ve always just used a pot, I’ve never had a popcorn maker…and I make a lot of popcorn.

      What was the pot made out of? Was the bottom of it really thin? These things could all be culprits:
      – pot too lightweight
      – heat too high
      – not enough oil
      – oil with a low smoke-point
      – pot too large
      – stale kernels

      Try it again with a heavyweight pan and coconut or peanut oil. Don’t turn the heat above medium-high, and put the popcorn in before the pot gets hot. As a basic rule of thumb, the size of the pot bottom should correspond to the amount of popcorn you’re making. You want a single layer of kernels covering the bottom. If your pot lid doesn’t have steam vents, you might want to crack it slightly to let just a bit of steam escape so you don’t wind up with tough kernels. And resist the urge to shake the pot! If it’s just a single layer of kernels, there’s no reason to.

  • Reply Julia January 15, 2013 at 1:00 pm

    Yum!!! I also wield the side-eye when it comes to my popcorn. Hands off!

    My current fav is to pop the corn in a little grapeseed oil. Then coat lightly with coconut oil, sprinkle on salt, nutritional yeast and smoked paprika or cayenne pepper. That maple pepper is sounding pretty f-ing fantastic though, so I’ll be trying that soon!

  • Reply JENNA January 15, 2013 at 1:11 pm

    I love popcorn! I always ask my husband if he wants any and how much he thinks he will eat. He gets his own bowl so he doesn’t eat any of mine.

  • Reply karina January 15, 2013 at 1:22 pm

    I had to share my favorite way to make popcorn:

    Put some olive oil in your pot and saute a large sprig of rosemary for a while. When it gets really fragrant and you feel the oil has been fully infused with the rosemary add your kernels and pop away! Then add salt. Delicious!

  • Reply Megan @ Pink O'Clock January 15, 2013 at 1:27 pm

    Yes! Popping popcorn with coconut oil is the best thing ever. It really makes the popcorn taste like it’s from the movie theater and (for me, at least) totally eliminates the need for butter (or the equivalent). Yum!

    Am going to have to hunt down some maple pepper now (which, by the way, is really fun to say).

  • Reply Kate January 15, 2013 at 1:32 pm

    Well, since popcorn is my slightly healthier late night snack, I just bought a jar! I love anything sweet/savory, so I’m pretty excited. They should send you a box for promoting them!

  • Reply Anathalia January 15, 2013 at 1:33 pm

    Wow, it sounds REALLY good! Back home, I never liked salt and sweet, but since I moved to the US, I regret the amount of times I passed it! I might have to try this Maple pepper thing! 😉

  • Reply Ana @ Rearranged Design January 15, 2013 at 2:05 pm

    I love popcorn. I used to make it all the time with just a pot but then I got an air popper and its SO much better, far less oily. Less to clean too!

    • Anna @ D16 January 15, 2013 at 2:12 pm

      I despise air-popped popcorn! Hah! That’s the one way I won’t eat it. I <3 fat and salt.

  • Reply Sherry January 15, 2013 at 4:00 pm

    I love popcorn too. I hold on to poorly made large pot with a lid that has holes in the sides intended for drainage of water for the single purpose of popping popcorn. It vents perfectly and my arms never feel like they are going to fall off from shaking the pot since it’s such lightweight crap. I always shake, force of habit I guess. I generally make kettle corn but I’ve been trying to branch to other options that use not so much sugar and maple pepper sounds delicious! I need to get my hands on some!

  • Reply Jen from insideways January 15, 2013 at 4:15 pm

    My husband is obsessed with popcorn too! He’s downright giddy when we whip it up for a snack. Our flavor recommendation: fresh ground rosemary with a little salt. It’s delicious!

  • Reply Ryan January 15, 2013 at 6:18 pm

    Have you ever tried truffle oil on popcorn? It’s soooo good! We first had it at a restaurant and now recreate it at home.

    • Anna @ D16 January 15, 2013 at 6:36 pm

      I haven’t had it at home (YET), but in a restaurant, yes! Delicious. But then I’ll put truffle oil on anything.

  • Reply Kerrie January 15, 2013 at 6:30 pm

    Hmmm…I can’t order any. The checkout isn’t working. Everyone must have headed over to order some at the same time. Will try the coconut oil tonight. 🙂

    • Anna @ D16 January 15, 2013 at 6:35 pm

      Hah! Oh no! I know a couple of people successfully ordered bottles earlier today, so yeah…maybe there was a run on Maple Pepper. Ack! Maybe send them an email and ask what’s up?

    • Kerrie January 15, 2013 at 10:17 pm

      Got it! It must have been an evening rush. Meant to say before – Peekskill Brewery serves truffle oil/sea salt popcorn. So good! It made me fall back in love with popcorn. I used to love to hate it. I had forgotten how good it could be when it is not microwaved or from the movies.

  • Reply daniel @ Manhattan Nest January 15, 2013 at 10:52 pm

    You can pay it forward with me, if you want. Like, I’ll accept a jar of this stuff no problem, no complaints.

    Like I’d totally take it off your hands and it would be totally fine.

    Just saying.

  • Reply Jade Sheldon January 15, 2013 at 11:34 pm

    Maple Pepper needs to be in my life…

  • Reply jeelago January 16, 2013 at 1:10 am

    We’re huuuuge popcorn fanatics. I’m shocked (shocked!) you say don’t shake!, We’ve found it makes all the difference between fluffy and chewy!? Thx for the tip about melting the butter/earth balance in the same pan tho! Dunno why we thought we needed the microwave and another dish to clean…doh! What kind of kernels do you prefer?

  • Reply Rachel January 16, 2013 at 6:37 am

    Anna have you tried the Indian spice mix Chaat Masala on popcorn? Sooo good!

  • Reply Alicia January 16, 2013 at 11:50 am

    My favourite food is toast and popcorn too! First paragraph = me 100%

  • Reply Dacia January 16, 2013 at 12:06 pm

    This post made me laugh. It sums up perfectly my relationship with popcorn. When my husband is out of town, I have no problem whipping up a giant bowl of buttery popcorn for dinner. I usually add dried herbs and garlic powder and nutritional yeast, or truffle salt. I am excited to try coconut oil instead of butter. I am interested in this maple pepper, but is it very sweet? Thanks for the new idea!

    • Anna @ D16 January 16, 2013 at 12:15 pm

      I definitely wouldn’t call it very sweet, no! The maple and pepper are about in equal balance with each other.

  • Reply Michelle January 16, 2013 at 6:54 pm

    This sounds delicious. We are also big popcorn fans, we generally pop with olive oil and then top with a variety of different spices depending on mood. Now the question is do I order this online (not sold anywhere near me) or do I attempt to recreate the blend myself…

  • Reply Sarah January 16, 2013 at 8:40 pm

    I love popcorn too- and this is the best stovetop popcorn maker ever:
    You turn the crank while it’s popping and it keeps the popcorn from burning and makes a great batch every time. I’ve used coconut oil with it and it’s great!

    • Anna @ D16 January 16, 2013 at 8:46 pm

      I’ve never actually felt like I need a popcorn popper. A regular pot works just fine for me! 🙂

  • Reply Eleni January 16, 2013 at 10:08 pm

    Anna. Muchas gracias for the popcorn troubleshooting tips. I finally made popcorn that popped all the kernels and didn’t burn. More oil + smaller pot. Genius.

    • Anna @ D16 January 16, 2013 at 10:31 pm

      Woo hoo!

  • Reply Kim January 19, 2013 at 12:37 am

    Anna, have you ever had the South African smoked paprika seasoning from Trader Joe’s? It’s so, so good on popcorn AND Kale – also two of my favorites!

  • Reply anne January 19, 2013 at 4:12 pm

    Thank you for this! Soulemama has started monthly popcorn recipes – I’m trying January’s tonight – and am so excited to add this version to the list of possibilities.

    This is totally off-topic, but thank you for the Nuxe and Weleda recommendations a while back. I just got both products and they are fantastic!

  • Reply Sofia Hedvig PR January 20, 2013 at 12:10 pm

    Fantastic inspiration, thanks!

    All the best/Sofia

  • Reply becka January 21, 2013 at 3:38 am

    I had popcorn for breakfast the other day, it felt a little crazy but it was 10:30 so in was kind of a morning tea/brunch type deal. Either way I loved it, popcorn is one of my most favourite/obsessive foods, too!

    I’m dying to try this maple pepper, it sounds incredible! I love maple, but my Canadian husband is crazy about it. I hope they ship to New Zealand!

  • Reply Ciara January 25, 2013 at 11:18 am

    Feic-I never realised my popcorn tastes were so vanilla. I pop it in a pot in a very little amount of sunflower oil and add salt. I like sweet and salty so nibble on some chocolate alongside it.
    This has got me thinking that it may be time to branch out.

  • Reply Cynthia January 26, 2013 at 6:09 pm

    Thanks for your popcorn popping tips, Anna! I love the coconut oil base.

  • Reply Cat January 28, 2013 at 4:44 pm

    Phew! I was finally able to order some; every time I tried to checkout I would get an error but it looks like the website is working now. I ordered the regular and the habanero. I recently started making homemade kettle corn and it is the best snack ever! So easy and delicious, I wonder why I ever bought the microwavable stuff.

  • Reply Anna February 4, 2013 at 11:48 am

    Hmm, I wonder where I can find Maple Pepper in Sweden…? 🙂

  • Reply Zoe Alexander February 7, 2013 at 1:23 pm

    My husband and my daughter love popcorn! It is so versatile!
    Zoe xxx

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