November 7, 2015

Buttered Popcorn Cookies

So, the semester is more than halfway over. It's been a good school year. I like my classes, for the most part anyway. My stress level is fairly low, except for the new teacher evaluation procedures. This year, 25% of my evaluation is based on student progress. I have to assess my students three times from September to November on the writing standards I've chosen to focus on. I have to chart their scores, determining how much I think they can improve in the two months' time. After the post-assessment, if at least 80% of my students meet their learning target, I get an "excellent" for that part of my evaluation.

Such. Bullshit.

This isn't making me a better teacher. In fact, it's making me less effective since I'm spending so much time focusing on the assessments instead of the rest of my curriculum, and I'm falling behind in my other grading.

It's all frustrating me, but my students are aware of why they are taking these assessments and I've been honest with them about the outcomes so far. Thankfully, they are understanding and cooperative.

Because it's time-consuming for them, too, I made a little treat for one of my classes this week. I didn't have any chocolate chips or whatnot for traditional cookies, but I did have some popcorn cookies it was!

These are quite buttery, but salty and sweet and really good.

Buttered Popcorn Cookies
from The Smitten Kitchen Cookbook

makes about 2 dozen

For the popcorn:
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1/4 cup popcorn kernels
1/4 teaspoon table salt
1 tablespoon butter, melted

For the cookie dough:
1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened
1/2 light brown sugar
1/3 cup granulated sugar
1 large egg
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 1/4 cups of all purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda

  • To make the popcorn: Pour the oil over the bottom of a large saucepan that has a lid (or use a Whirly-Pop), and add the popcorn kernels. Move them around in the pan so they are in one layer. Cover the pot, heat it over medium high heat. Once the kernels begin to pop, keep the pan moving until all of the kernels have popped. About 5 to 7 minutes. Toss the popcorn with the salt and melted butter, then transfer to a bowl. Make sure to pick out the unpopped kernels. You should have about 4 to 4 and 1/2 cups of popcorn. (Or you could cheat like I did and use "homestyle" microwaved popcorn. Shhhh!)
  • To make the cookie dough: Preheat your oven to 350 F. In a large bowl cream together the softened butter, brown sugar, granulated sugar, egg and vanilla until smooth. In another bowl, whisk the flour and baking soda together. Stir the combined dry ingredients into the butter sugar mixture. Fold in the cooled popcorn so that it is evenly distributed through the batter. It is no big deal if the popcorn breaks up a bit when folding. 
  • Scoop a large tablespoon-sized mound onto a parchment-lined baking sheet (or line with a silicone mat), leaving about 2 inches space in between cookies. Bake for about 10 minutes, until the edges are light brown. Let them sit on the pan for a few minutes to firm up before transferring them them to a rack to cool. 

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