Popcorn Cake

by Kimberley Thompson, Tastemaker in Residence

I was thinking about favorite childhood recipes last night as I was sitting by Mom's hospital bed. Her request for a glass of water; which was one of my favorite delaying tactics as a child when reluctant to go to bed, made memories surface unbidden to my thoughts.

Fun parties with frosted clown cupcakes. Tomato soup topped with cheese stars. And popcorn cake. Wonderful popcorn cake.

Popcorn cake was....well...cake yet not cake. It was made in a bundt pan...but not baked. It was simple; usually 5 or so ingredients. A child...with supervision...could make it.

It is a cake that makes you giggle. It is a cake that transports you back to all that was sweet and good when you were a child. It looks like a cake in search of a party!


12 cups plain popped popcorn with un-popped hulls removed
1 lb mini marshmallows
1 stick butter
1 Tbsp vanilla
24 oz bag mini spiced gum drops
1 cup lightly salted peanuts


  1. Before starting, spray a bundt or tube pan with baking spray. Set aside.
  2. In a large bowl put the popcorn, gum drops and salted peanuts. Do not stir at this time.
  3. In a heavy kettle with high sides, put the butter in and melt over low heat. Add the marshmallows and stir until blended. Remove from heat and stir in the vanilla. 
  4. Pour over the popcorn mixture in the bowl and stir until well coated. Be careful as it will stick and burn skin if you get any on yourself.
  5. Once stirred, press firmly into sprayed pan, using a sheet of waxed paper. Let cool for 1 hour then slice and serve. And watch people's faces just light

Customizing the Popcorn Cake

The 2nd most wonderful aspect about popcorn cake; the first being it's ability to transport anyone back to childhood, is it's versatility. Popcorn cake is VERY easy to customize.


  1. Use 1 cup candied pecans, 1 cup square pretzel snacks in the dry mix and 1 cup unwrapped Kraft caramels in the marshmallow mixture.
  2. Use 2 cups M & M's, and 2 cups broken pretzel sticks in the dry mixture.
  3. Use 1 1/2 cups Brach's Candy corn with 1 cup dried sweetened cranberries.

Just about any snack that goes well with "sweet and salty" can be put into popcorn cake! Be inventive!