The Flavors of Fall, Stirred Together and Poured over Popcorn

You can’t believe everything you read online. Case in point: online recipes from blogs, product sites, and e-publications. While many Internet recipes work well, there are those that leave you scratching your head, wondering why your result turned out nothing like the recipe promised it would.

This, then, is why we’re talking about a caramel corn of sorts instead of popcorn balls. Wanting to reflect the change of seasons with October’s post, I immediately thought of the popcorn balls that take me back to childhood Halloween parties. Soynuts seemed an easy add-in and maple a more autumnal flavor than straight caramel.

A quick online search brought me to a recipe that appeared repeatedly on different websites. Following the recipe exactly, I boiled the maple syrup to 260ºF, then poured it over the popcorn mixture. Unfortunately, there wasn’t enough syrup to go around. Trying to form the popcorn balls was futile; they only fell apart.

An easy fix would be to remake the recipe using less popcorn, allowing the same amount of syrup to cover less ground and bind the popcorn mixture better. But that meant a re-do and I was loathe to waste ingredients already used and time already invested.

Instead, the recipe transformed into a “caramel” corn, also appropriate for this time of year. Left on its own, it seemed a bit one-note both in color and flavor. Adding cinnamon red hot candies perked the mixture right up and I knew I had a hit.

Let’s back up a bit, though. Why soynuts? While it’s true that any nut will do, there are good reasons to add soynuts to snack mixes such as popcorn mixtures and granola as well as cookies, quickbreads, and other baked goods. Soynuts masquerade as nuts in any of these recipes, but they’re not truly nuts.

Botanically, soynuts are legumes. (More specifically, they’re roasted and seasoned drained soaked soybeans.) This means they’re packed with protein as well as complex carbohydrates. Soybeans have the added benefit of also containing healthy fats. Shown to reduce high levels of blood cholesterol, soy protein and isoflavones may also help prevent hormone-dependent cancers, reduce the risk of osteoporosis, and perhaps even relieve some symptoms of menopause.

So go ahead and toss roasted soynuts into your fall baking adventures. The recipe below is the unexpected but welcome result of mine!

Soynut Cinnamon Maple Corn

16 cups popped popcorn (about 1/2 cup unpopped)

3/4 cup roasted soynuts

1/2 cup cinnamon red hot candies

1 cup real maple syrup

2 tablespoons butter

1 teaspoon vanilla extract


In large bowl, toss together popcorn, soynuts, and candies. Coat large spoon with cooking spray.

In large saucepan, heat maple syrup and butter over medium-low to medium heat until 260ºF on candy thermometer. Remove from heat; stir in vanilla.

Pour syrup over popcorn mixture, stirring with coated spoon to mix. Spread on wax paper-lined baking sheets to cool. Store in airtight container. Makes about 16 cups.