Maple White Cheddar Popcorn
Like most people, our purchases of comfort / junk food went up after the pandemic hit. Unlike most people - I think - we may have a unique set of go-to junk food suppliers:
- Indian Grocery Stores. Surati brand “Chevdo” and Haldiram brand “Dal Biji” are our FAVS.
- Asian Grocery Stores. We’re ALL about the Korean and Filipino snacks at the moment.
- Canadian Tire.
Ok so the first two might not be that weird, but it’s not like we’re hitting up 7-Eleven for our junk food needs, either. Most of my friends are well aware that Indian and Asian groceries have the best snacks.
Canadian Tire, though?
Something must have changed in the years I was gone, as I would never have considered CT to be a place I’d go to buy junk food. Batteries, oil for the car, new tires... sure.
A huge selection of reasonably priced junk food - sweet AND savoury - that’s actually decent quality AND has the added benefit of punny names and groan inducing dad jokes as part of the packaging?
It’s not the Canadian Tire I remember, but I can embrace change like that! 🙂
The big winner for us, among all their offerings, is the Maple White Cheddar Popcorn.
I think it might be the only Frank Snack without a ridiculous name and dad jokes, but there IS a cute cartoon image of two pieces of popcorn - with tuques - lounging in a hot tub of maple syrup, so, you know... I’ll take it.
Gotta get your amusement where you can, these days, am I right?
Anyway, early on in this whole thing, we noticed the bags of Maple White Cheddar Popcorn, and thought it sounded too weird to pass up. We dig sweet + Salty/Savoury in general, but the Cheese + Maple Caramel kind of threw us a little.
... but it was FANTASTIC. The bag disappeared embarrassingly fast, and we immediately put more on our shopping list for our next curbside pickup.
I shared the discovery on Facebook, and immediately felt guilty - many of my American friends expressed a keen interest in trying it, and disappointment in lacking access to it.
Obviously, I had to develop a homemade version for them - and you!
Developing accurate knockoff Canadian recipes was my *jam* when I was living in the USA - and eventually led to the creation of my Magnum Opus - “More Than Poutine: Favourite Foods from My Home and Native Land”.
One of my more useful “big autistic superpowers”* is the ability to taste everything in a dish, “see” the proportions,, and easily be able to replicate it.
My favourite instance of this worked the other direction, location-wise. It was a dish - Chicken Shahi Korma - from a favourite restauarant in Minneapolis.
The ingredients list is a mile long, but it produces a dish that tastes EXACTLY like our beloved meal from that restaurant, which we’ll likely never have an opportunity to visit again.
When it came to developing the Canadian recipes, having a ridiculously strong sense memory (taste and smell both) worked alongside that to really aid in that endeavor.
Finally, I had found a practical use for something that ... was not really practical.
Before applying it to recipes, it usually popped up randomly. The wind outside would hit my face at the exact angle I’d feel it when stepping into an Axel back in the day - even decades before - and it would just kind of throw me off, you know? Appropriate muscles would tense up in anticipation of... what? Banging out a jump in the middle of crossing an intersection? It was bizarre. Brains are weird.
* CERTAINLY more useful than things like “Can hear dog whistles and electricity”!
ANYWAY, way off topic.
Knocking off recipes for Canadian products was a comfort thing for me, and I felt like I was doing good for my fellow Canadian expats. It’s amazing how far a familiar meal - or product - can go to soothe expat stress, especially in times like these.
More Canadian Knockoff Treats
Are you a Canadian living away, unable to access some of the retail or restaurant foods in Canada? I got you. Here are the current - accurate - knockoff Canadian recipes I’ve got here on the website. What are YOU missing most? I take requests!
Maybe I’ll post my Deep N Delicious recipe at some point. Figuring out that frosting was a WIN for me!
Dill Pickle Cream Cheese Dip
Gluten-Free Beaver Tails
Homemade Crunchie Bars
Homemade Peameal and Back Bacon
Honey Dill Dip
Honey Garlic Cooking Sauce
Moon Mist Ice Cream
Tiger Tail Ice Cream
Anyway, enough about Canadian Tire, autistic superpowers, and weird skating reflexes, let’s talk about this recipe!
Unlike most of my knockoff recipes, this one is more accurate in spirit and balance, than a literal accuracy of the product itself. What white cheddar powder you use will influence the final flavour, and this recipe relies on seasoning it to your taste - so it’ll vary slightly from the source material.
Only slightly, though!
Use a popcorn that puffs up nice and big when popped - that works best for caramel corn of any type, IMHO. The little kernels look weird and end up with an odd proportion of caramel.
True story: In a special diet group I’m in the other day, someone was asking about “Sugar free maple syrup”. The Canadians were confused, but it turned out that “maple syrup” is how some people refer to pancake syrup in the USA.
The stuff with no actual maple syrup in it.
So, to be clear, for this recipe you need to use actual boiled down sap that was extracted from a maple tree and has nothing weird added to it.
You know. Maple syrup!
Though now that I think about it, I bet birch syrup would make an amazing caramel also. Hmmmm...
Here is where what you have available is going to impact your final Maple White Cheddar Popcorn.
I had intended to use actual white cheddar powder, but there was none available on Amazon at the time, and Bulk Barn was closed.
So, we used Kernel’s brand White Cheddar Popcorn seasoning... which wasn’t available when we were living in the USA, unfortunately.
I remember there was another brand that was similarly named - Kernel Seasons - but it wasn’t as good, as was WAY more salty. For that reason, I did not include measurements on the White Cheddar - you’ll want to season it to your tastes.
Whether you use actual White Cheddar Powder, or White Cheddar Popcorn Seasoning, just make sure it’s nicely salty. You want it to be a good contrast to the sweetness of the Maple Caramel Corn.
Season it with your white cheddar powder or popcorn seasoning first, until it's got a good amount of flavour. THEN add salt, if needed. (The Kernels Seasoning here in Canada needed a little extra salt, to balance out the caramel. Kernel Seasons would NOT need extra salt, IMHO)
Bacon isn’t part of the source material, but I wanted to mention it as a possibility.
As we were snacking on our first batch of homemade Maple White Cheddar Popcorn, we realized the crispy bacon crumbled up in it would be AMAZING.
If you’d like to use bacon, I’d say about ¼-1/2 lb, fried up crisp, drained well and crumbled would be amazing.
Just be sure to eat it right away, rather than storing it for any real amount of time!
Hey, if you’re interested in Canadian foods, you should definitely check out my cookbook, "More Than Poutine: Favourite Foods from my Home and Native Land”.
"More than Poutine" is a Canadian cookbook like no other - written by a Canadian living away, it includes both traditional home cooking recipes, as well as accurate homemade versions of many of the snacks, sauces, convenience foods, and other food items that are hard to come by outside of Canada! Order your copy here on this site, through Amazon, or through any major bookseller!
More Popcorn Recipes
Let’s get to that recipe, eh?
Note: This site is a participant in the Amazon Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for the site to earn fees by linking to Amazon and affiliated sites. While I’ll only ever link to items that I, personally, wholeheartedly recommend, I do need to put that disclosure out there!
Maple White Cheddar Popcorn
- Line two cookie sheets with parchment paper. Set aside.
- Place half of the popped popcorn in a large metal pot. Set aside.
- In a large saucepan, combine butter, maple syrup, and salt, whisking until well combined. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat, stirring constantly. Once boiling, allow to boil for 7 minutes - stirring frequently - and then remove from heat.
- Add baking soda, stir well to combine - caramel will foam up a little.
- Pour caramel over popcorn, CAREFULLY stir to coat evenly – Hot caramel is nasty to get burned with!
- Divide the maple caramel corn between the two cookie sheets, spreading it evenly. Break up large chunks of popcorn, and allow to cool fully.
- In the meantime, place the remaining popcorn into the large pot.
- Melt a small amount of butter - usually about 2-3 Tbsp. Allow to cool slightly before pouring over plain popcorn. Toss well to coat.
- Season buttered popcorn with as much white cheddar powder or white cheddar popcorn seasoning as you’d like. Taste, add salt if necessary - you want this one to be good and salty!
- Once Maple caramel corn is fully cooled, break into smaller pieces and mix with the white chocolate popcorn, and bacon, if you're using it.
- Serve immediately, or transfer to airtight containers for storage. (Note: Don't store the popcorn if you added bacon - eat it right away!)