Dress Up Popcorn

ELIZABETH KARMEL, Associated PressFebruary 20, 2013 

Of all of the awards shows I love to watch (and I love to watch them all), the Oscars is my favorite. And it's a great excuse to throw a party. Many of my friends do the "red carpet" thing for their own parties and ask guests to dress in their black tie best. But I prefer watching in comfy clothes and snacking on simple but satisfying nibbles. After all, it's a long show!

This year, I am going to make popcorn the old-fashioned way -- on the stovetop -- and flavor the hot kernels three different ways. Everyone loves popcorn and there is no other food that is so closely associated with movies. Even though I sometimes make microwave popcorn just like the rest of the world, when I make it from scratch, I can't believe the difference in taste.

There are basically two ways to top popcorn -- wet and dry.

Melted butter is always a crowd pleaser, but you have to make that version just before serving or else it gets soggy. Other wet toppings, such as melted chocolate, should be applied to popcorn spread flat on a baking sheet, then allowed to cool. Otherwise it becomes soggy.

The advantage of dry flavor toppings is that you can make the popcorn a few hours in advance, then serve it at room temperature. Just make sure to add the spices while the popcorn is hot.

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