Sweet or Salty?

When it comes to snacks, most of us tend to lean toward either sweet or salty treats, one or the other.   But all that is changing.  Thanks to the injection of Asian culinary influences, we are rejecting this limiting construct, this antiquated divide between the sweet and salty.  Why can’t we have both?  An extra hit of salt deftly applied to a dessert handily wakes up the tongue’s taste buds while further bumping up the sweetness factor.

It opens up all sorts of taste possibilities:  salt and caramel are naturals, so are maple sugar and bacon, or sea salt and chocolate.  This all makes my mouth water just thinking about it ― as it did recently while musing over my old Toll House Cookie recipe.

What makes a Toll House cookie the gold standard of cookies?  The combination of butter, brown sugar, and granulated sugar merge into the well-balanced caramel flavor we all love. Throw in plenty of vanilla, a boost of salt, a bit of baking soda, an egg for lightness, stir in some flour to bind it all together, and you have the perfect batter. But, for most  it is the chocolate chips that have made it a classic.  One bite and your tongue is doing a tap dance in your mouth―it’s hard not to be happy!

Deb Perelman clearly has this figured out with Buttered Popcorn Cookies in her popular Smitten Kitchen Cookbook. Shades of a Toll House cookie― I knew she was on to something, since I would take a bowl of popcorn over chocolate any day of the week. popcorn cookies rack The popcorn adds a nice toastiness, a little more bulk and crunch, and the extra nudge of butter and salt are prominent enough to tickle the tongue.   You really can’t eat just one.

It is a small recipe, but I suspect it doubles easily.  For hard core chocoholics, you could probably drizzle melted chocolate over the tops and have the best of bother worlds.  I’ll just have another cookie.  Thanks, Deb.

 Buttered Popcorn Cookie
Buttered Popcorn Cookies

Buttered Popcorn Cookies

Inspired by Deb Perelman’s recipe in Smitten Kitchen Cookbook 


1/4           cup popcorn kernels,about 4 cups popped and seasoned with 1 Tbsp butter and 1/4 tsp salt
1/4           cup butter, softened
1/2           cup brown sugar, packed
1/3           cup granulated sugar
1              large egg
1/2           tsp vanilla extract
1 1/4        cup all purpose flour
1/4           tsp baking soda


  1. Prepare popcorn and set it aside to cool. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Grease, spray, or line baking sheet with parchment.
  2. In a small bowl whisk the flour and baking soda together.
  3. In a large bowl cream the butter with the brown sugar, granulated sugar, egg, and vanilla until smooth. Stir the dry into the butter mixture.  Fold in the popcorn to distribute evenly; there will be a lot of it and it will break up a little.
  4. Scoop heaping tablespoon sized mounds 2″ apart onto baking sheet. Bake 10-12 minutes, until the edges are light brown. Let set on hot sheet for a few minutes to firm up before moving to rack to cool.  Yield:  20- 24 cookies.