I want to make popcorn panna cotta. I had a couple of ideas for this, either steeping milk in popped corn or (my preferred option) melting butter popcorn Jelly Belly beans into the milk and then making a panna cotta from that.

These were to be served as petit four with a caramelised popcorn piece on top, and so I was going to make them in ice cube trays so each one was bite size.

However I wasn't able to get the texture right. I tried melting different amounts of jelly belly beans in my milk, but they never seemed to solidify just going a sort of thick creamy consistency with the tops sometimes getting a skin on in the more concentrated versions. Then if I added gelatine as I would for making a panna cotta then they came out firm and rubbery.

So apart from continuing to try different amounts of gelatine in my dissolved Jelly Belly mixture, does anyone have any ideas what I might be able to do to get this to work?

(I'm going to try using the steeped milk/real popcorn version again, but this wasn't that popcorny and tasted slightly of the oil that the corn was popped in. It should at least be easier to get the consistency right on that one)

6 Answers 6


It might be that the interior part of the Jelly Bellys are messing up the texture of the finished product. Have you tried just infusing them long enough for the sugar coating to dissolve, and then straining out the jelly like interiors? I believe that the sugar part is what contains all the flavor, and the "guts" are just plain. HTH!


Grant Achatz does quite a lot with popcorn at Alinea. One of his recipes is available as part of the preview of his book on Google Books and is just about readable. Looks like he goes with the steeping method (although he's using water). I ate at Alinea recently and there was a popcorn soup on the menu that tasted exactly like popcorn, so it's probably a good place to start (continue?).

A friend once made a "Movie Theatre" Panna Cotta. It was a normal panna cotta, but he served it with a Coca Cola syrup (just heavily reduced Coke) and some home made Cracker Jacks. It was delicious. So good luck with yours.

Edit: The basics of the recipe:

  • Cook 100g uncooked popcorn kernels (he does it stove top with 25g canola oil)
  • Add to 750g water, 7g kosher salt, 90g butter, 75g sugar. Simmer for 5 minutes
  • Strain through china cap, blend, strain through chinoise.
  • thanks for that, but I can't see the recipe, or a preview from that link...
    – Sam Holder
    Commented Jul 23, 2010 at 14:30
  • Hmmmm, the link works for me, even if I copy / paste it in to a different browser. A google books search for ACHATZ POPCORN should turn it up.
    – yossarian
    Commented Jul 23, 2010 at 14:50
  • I've added the basics of the recipe. I wasn't sure if this was appropriate for the site though. Should I be putting other people's recipe's here rather than just linking or is it OK because the recipe is available freely on the internet? I can remove if appropriate.
    – yossarian
    Commented Jul 23, 2010 at 15:34

Using popped corn may be a bit too literal. What you really need is the flavor of corn and of butter. Butter flavor should be easy to incorporate using real butter, though you may want to use clarified. For the corn flavor, I would try using some roasted corn. Fresh would be ideal, though you could probably get away with frozen.

This sounds like an intriguing dish. Please post back when you find a successful technique.


i make jelly belly ganache for macarons; heat cream and jellybeans untill surface is dissolved, cool, blend, strain.then use as normal cream for white choc ganache. It took me a while to work out how to infuse these little suckers but the flavour is chronic.


Steeping the flavouring in milk as a very typical approach used by Heston Blumenthal to get very similar effects to what you are after so I would definitely give it a try. He did this many times on his Heston's Feasts series.


I'll second mjobrian, you might do better getting the flavors of corn and butter added to your mix separately, especially if you're having trouble with the jelly beans. I would also second the request for an update once you find a recipe that works, this sounds very good.

You might look at hominy, just the stuff that comes in cans - it has a corn taste where the flavor is more like popped corn rather than sweet corn (if it helps, I've gotten this flavor from white hominy). With the addition of salt and butter, it tastes very much like popcorn, and the texture is soft and starchy (it reminds me of potato) - and you might find it easier to extract the flavor from or get into a panna cotta or a petit-four-friendly texture.

Also, there might be ways to get a better flavor from steeping real popcorn - this recipe uses hot cream (with salt and sugar) to steep the popcorn,perhaps the extra fats (compared to milk) or extra heat, or just a different proportion, may give a stronger flavor. This recipe simmers the popcorn with water, butter and salt, this one presses the soft parts of the soaked, simmered popcorn through a strainer and adds these soft solids back - though in your case, you might not want the texture, but you can still blend them in for a thicker and a bit more flavorful liquid. If you're concerned about off flavors from the popping oil, you can use clarified butter to pop the corn in.

Alternately, you could look for the kind of flavoring or extract they use to make this kind of candy - it may be specialized, but it might not be more expensive than buying multiple bagsful of butter-popcorn jelly beans to experiment and cook with. I saw this popcorn extract, it looks plain but I suppose butter and salt could be added separately. this company, Amorelli's, has both an extract and a paste in salted butter popcorn flavor. Anyway, you can look yourself - the point is these products exist

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