Recipe: Popcorn fondue with toffee apple shortbread

Popcorn fondue by Charlotte Smith- Jarvis. SARAH LUCY BROWN

Popcorn fondue by Charlotte Smith- Jarvis. SARAH LUCY BROWN - Credit: Archant

Make our fairground inspired dessert for Valentine's Day.

There's not a lot I can do – I admit it. I'm so rubbish at maths my kids outdo me. I don't think I've ever changed a lightbulb. And I'm so bad at wrapping presents I actually had to be given a tutorial by a friend last Christmas.

But I can cook. That's my saving grace. They say knowledge is power, and I definitely use my culinary prowess to my advantage all the time. There's the 'I'm sorry I was so moody' cheesecake for my husband. Chocolates in lieu of gifts for friends. And cookies to bribe the children to do their homework.

I also manage to wangle my way through anniversaries and special occasions by popping on an apron, and Valentine's Day is no exception.

There was a time I'd let my other half cook (destroy) dinner on February 14, but I've learnt my lesson. He's better off in the shed tinkering with tools than at the hob, where he always manages to use every single pan, splatter food up and down the cupboards and splashbacks, and rarely has anything edible on the table before bedtime.

No, Valentine's is strictly down to me, and I like to keep it simple. We always get a platter of local meats and cheeses, pickles, bread and deli pots, and crack open a bottle of bubbly. And I make a homemade dessert.

This year I'm being very minimalist with a fondue and cookies, inspired by the fairground. You really can taste the nuttiness of the charred corn in the white chocolate, and there's something romantic (if a bit messy) about feeding each other a good pud!

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Popcorn fondue with toffee apple shortbread

(Serves 2 – with shortbread to spare)


For the fondue: Handful popcorn kernals, 1tbsp oil, 200ml double cream, 150g white chocolate

For the shortbread: 1 firm eating apple, peeled, cored and cut into tiny pieces, 3tbsps caster sugar 110g unsalted butter, 60g caster sugar, 110g plain flour, 60g cornflour, extra flour for rolling


Place the apple pieces on two lined trays and cook in the oven at 90C for an hour until partially dehydrated. Sprinkle over the 3tbsps of sugar and grill until caramelised.

To make the shortbread beat the butter and sugar until smooth. Mix in the flour and cornflour and finally the apple pieces. Bring together into a dough. Wrap and chill for 30 minutes. Roll to 5mm thick and cut into heart shapes. Bake on a lined tray at 170C for 20 minutes until golden.

For the fondue place the oil and popcorn in a pan and cover with a lid. Cook on high until you can hear all the corn has popped then leave for a further minute so the edges of the popcorn catch and char. Allow to cool a little.

Warm the cream in a pan and add the popcorn. Infuse for an hour then strain through a sieve, pushing to extract all the liquid. Return the cream to a pan and melt slowly with the white chocolate. Serve in a fondue pot or dish with biscuits on the side to dip.