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It all started innocently enough. I was browsing my local Trader Joe’s and saw this strange specimen staring at me from the shelves:
(Pay no mind to the lousy Instagram photo)
Little known fact: I have become a wee bit obsessed with kettle corn in the last few months.
Widely known fact: I am more than a wee bit obsessed with cookies. This was obviously a combination I needed to recreate at home, posthaste. To the kitchen laboratory!
I didn’t actually buy the TJ’s kettle corn cookies, because to be honest, they didn’t look or sound like something I would enjoy. They’re described as “a crispy butter cookie” and looked like little hockey pucks. They might be delicious, but I prefer my cookies on the softer—and less mass-produced—side, so I decided to just take the idea as inspiration and create my own cookies instead.
I DID, however, buy a big bag of Trader Joe’s kettle corn to use in the cookies.
Okay, that’s a lie. I actually bought 3 bags.
But not all at once.
No, I bought a bag…and then ate all the popcorn before I could make the cookies. Then I bought a second bag, and this one miraculously disappeared in just a few days. It seemed to shrink the most during the hours Jason was asleep or at work. I have no explanation for this, but I suspect gremlins were involved.
Finally, I bought a third bag, and instituted a strict “no opening the kettle corn” policy until the blasted cookies were made and photographed. The remainder of the bag was gone within two days, and I am now forbidden from shopping in the popcorn aisle. True story.
So be warned that even though the recipe only calls for 3 CUPS of kettle corn, if you’re anything like me you made need more like 3 BAGS of kettle corn. Apologies in advance.
But let’s talk about the cookies. I adapted a recipe from Cook’s Illustrated for chocolate chip cookies that used all brown sugar. I thought that the caramel flavor of brown sugar would nicely balance the sweet and salty caramel corn.
I also wanted to use browned butter, to play up the buttery popcorn flavor and give the cookies a little more depth. And of course I had to use a more-than-generous pinch of salt, since the beauty of kettle corn is its sweet and savory nature—I thought the cookies should be the same way!
The result? A substantial cookies that’s crisp on the edges, chewy in the middle, full of brown sugar and browned butter flavor, and packed with sweet and salty kettle corn. These were pretty good the day that I made them, but I actually enjoyed them more the second day (and then the third day…and the fourth…) when the flavors had time to meld a little, and the cookies seemed to get a little softer and chewier.
The only problem is that if I ever want to make these again, I’ll have to procure more kettle corn. And we all know how THAT story ends.
Kettle Corn Cookies
- 7 ounces unsalted butter
- 2 cups all-purpose flour
- 1/2 tsp baking soda
- 1/4 tsp baking powder
- 1 tsp salt
- 1-3/4 cup brown sugar, packed
- 1 large egg, room temperature
- 1 large egg yolk, room temperature
- 1 tbsp vanilla extract
- 3 cups kettle corn, coarsely crushed
- Preheat the oven to 350* Fahrenheit.
- Place 5 ounces of the butter in a small saucepan over medium heat. Cook it, stirring occasionally, until it turns a medium-amber color. This should take about 6-8 minutes. Watch it carefully toward the end, so that it doesn’t burn. Once browned, remove it from the heat and add the remaining 2 ounces of butter, stirring it in so that it melts and cools the browned butter.
- Whisk together the flour, baking soda, baking powder, and salt in a small bowl.
- Combine the melted browned butter and brown sugar in the bowl of a large mixer and mix it on medium-high speed for several minutes, until the brown sugar is moistened. Scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl and add the egg, egg yolk, and vanilla extract. Mix on medium speed until the egg is completely incorporated.
- With the mixer on low, slowly add the flour mixture until it is almost completely incorporated. Stop the mixer and stir in the crushed kettle corn by hand. Scoop small 1-inch balls of dough onto baking sheets lined with parchment paper.
- Bake the cookies for 9-11 minutes, until they’re golden around the edges and just set in the center. Don’t overcook, otherwise the cookies will be crispy instead of chewy.
- Let the cookies cool completely on a wire cooking rack. Store Kettle Corn Cookies in an airtight container at room temperature for up to two weeks.
Our recipes are developed using weight measurements, and we highly recommend using a kitchen scale for baking whenever possible. However, if you prefer to use cups, volume measurements are provided as well. PLEASE NOTE: the adage “8 oz = 1 cup” is NOT true when speaking about weight, so don’t be concerned if the measurements don’t fit this formula.Click here to learn more about baking measurements and conversion.
Those sound divine!
Would you believe I just got home from Trader Joe’s and after seeing your post where you mentioned your indiscretions with kettle corn, I bought some at TJ’s. Now I see this recipe (and I’m a huge lover of the CI chocolate chip cookie recipe as a base for cookie experiments). I simply must make these ASAP, it’s gotta be fate!
Yessss! I’ll send you an invitation to the next Kettle Corn Fanclub meeting. 🙂
oh my gosh, that is an amazing combination! looks amazing!!
I’ve seen these at TJ’s, but yours look so much yummier!
I would love this while watching our family’s favorite flicks…Won’t be missing the popcorn. This is cool! Thanks for the post!
This looks absolutely delicious. Would love for you to share this with us over at foodepix.com.
You are amazing! What a great combination! I love that you combined two of my favorites–cookies and kettle corn! Delicious!
These look great! Thanks for the idea! Two questions: if you use salted butter, would you just leave out the additional salt? Also, is using a mixer absolutely necessary? Would mixing by hand result in tough cookies or anything? Thank you!
Hi Caley! I probably wouldn’t leave out the salt–this recipe has kind of a lot of salt to get the whole sweet-and-salty thing going–but I would reduce it by half to 1/2 teaspoon instead of the full teaspoon.
And yes, you could do these by hand or with a hand mixer instead of a stand mixer. I will say that mixing them by hand incorporates less air, so they might not spread as much. This could be great, especially if you like soft centers in your cookies. If it’s a problem then just make sure to press down on the cookies and form them into discs instead of round balls before baking. Hope you enjoy them!
Gotta try the cookies…I actually pop kettlekorn at fairs, festivals, etc. I have not eaten T.J’s but already know what you buy at my booth is AWESOME because everyone tells me it is the best kettlekorn they have ever eaten. But I am out of kk right now..keep extra in the freezer..stays fresh forever..well not quite..only if you stay out of it!!!
— 3 cups of kettle corn – then crush it, and use whatever amount that is?
Or crush enough kettle corn to equal 3 cups?
‘Sounds like it’s gonna be a keeper 🙂
Hi Kristi! You should start with 3 cups of kettle corn, and then crush/chop it. I hope you enjoy!
Thanks for the recipe. I made these tonight and they came out great. I used a melon scoop and a half and ended up with 22 cookies.
Followed the recipe to the T and my cookies came out very flat. Tasty, but so flat. I wonder if they needed baking powder as well as baking soda to help them rise?
Hi Morgan! Sorry to hear the cookies were flat. Did they spread out a lot but never rise? Flat, spread out cookies are often caused by using very soft butter or beating the butter too long (incorporating too much air in the batter). They can also occur when the batter doesn’t have enough flour. If you don’t think the butter or flour were issues, experimenting/examing your leaveners is a great next step. I always recommend checking the dates on your leaveners to make sure they haven’t expired. If they are older, they can lose their potency. If they seem up to date, you could definitely try adding a little baking soda. Hope that helps!