Eating Crispy Cumulous Clouds: The Best Popcorn Popper

That's what they look like to me--those little implosions of corn kernels. There is a child-like magic when watching the hard little yellow kernels pop and change form and color. It makes me think of all the great things that come in small packages that hide beautiful things within like buds that overnight become leaves or flowers, eggs that in moments crack open to reveal little baby birds. And in the Cuisinart popcorn popper you can witness the miracle through a clear plastic container. At first the simple wire device on the stirring plate moves the kernels slowly around and at about 3 minutes the first kernels start popping. They all pop in less than 7 minutes. If you don't finish all the popcorn in one sitting, it can be recrisped in a 350˚F/17˚C. oven for about 10 minutes and it's just like fresh-popped.

There are many ways to season popcorn and a little booklet that comes with the machine has several recipes. But my favorite is simply butter and salt. For 1/3 cup of kernels I use about ½ teaspoon of fine sea salt and about 2 tablespoons of clarified butter but as an extra treat I also add a small splash of white truffle oil. (This was inspired by my friend the brilliant chef Patrick O'Connell of The Inn at Little Washington, but he uses little pieces of the actual truffle!). I became tired of white truffle oil when so many inferior brands starting appearing on the market as they tasted weird not wonderful but then I discovered the best one I've ever tasted and can recommend it without reservation--Earthy Delights. It may seem expensive at $32 plus shipping for an 8 ounce bottle but not when you consider that only a few drops go a very long way. Keep in mind that it is best to add it after cooking as most of the flavor dissipates on heating. Store it in a cool dark place but not the refrigerator. It's available right from the source: