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Serial contentment with Sophie White's Peanut caramel popcorn bars

This week, Sophie White identifies one of her primary needs - her TV show of choice - and she's got a super snack to nibble on while she watches it


Peanut caramel popcorn bars

Peanut caramel popcorn bars

Peanut caramel popcorn bars

I've been thinking of how, in recent times, my sense of contentment has been largely based on something that the psychologist Maslow could never have predicted when he was setting out his principles for the hierarchy of needs.

The bottom two layers of his famous pyramid remain unchanged, for sure. Physiological needs are still of the utmost importance. They're the non-negotiables, like food, water, shelter and sleep. The absolute baseline we need to function as humans.

The next rung up, Safety, involving security, health and employment, is still relevant to our generation, but I think the gen Z-ers may need to look at re-working the top layers, because I have noticed - albeit in some rudimentary studies, not yet peer-reviewed - that my contentment is directly linked to where I am in my current series.

We all have a current series, right? It's the TV show you're really invested in. You might have a sidebar show that you dip in and out of, but it's probably just background noise while you're scrolling on your phone.

No, the main series is your most valuable player (MVP). If you're watching it with a friend or partner, there is a strict understanding that you do not watch ahead. The main series is essentially our oxygen, and should our watch-partner be unavailable any evening, resentments can quickly begin to fester.

So, I've noticed that my sense of contentment and well-being travels up and down a scale according to where I am in relation to the MVP series. My sense of well-being is probably at its peak when at around episode three or four, when I am confident that the series is really good, and there's still a glut of episodes ahead of me.

When I'm at the absolute beginning of a new series, my contentment is not exactly on the floor - I am, after all, excited by the promise of a new series - it's tempered by angst that the series will not be as good as the various recommenders have promised.

Then there is the gradual depleting of my contentment as the remaining episodes deplete, and an existential dread creeps back in. "It's nearly over," my mind races. "What will I watch next?"

The nihilism takes hold as I have a few false starts. Apparently Schitt's Creek will bring me back to the happy place, but everyone says you have to suffer through the first series to get to the good stuff. They promised The Americans was good, but I'm just not getting it. There's nothing for me now...

Obviously snack choices can't insure a good series, but they can ease us through the hump as we cast around for the next One, and these decadent peanut-butter popcorn bars are balm to the soul.


Peanut Caramel Popcorn bars

Makes 10-12

You will need:

100g popcorn

100g brown sugar

100ml cream

3 tablespoons butter

50ml honey

Pinch of sea salt flakes

3 tablespoons smooth peanut butter


1 Place the popcorn in a large bowl, and put to one side. To make the caramel, put the brown sugar, the cream, the butter and the honey in a pot over a high heat, and stir constantly until it comes to the boil. Lower the heat, cover the pot tightly with a lid, and cook for five minutes. Then remove the lid, and resume stirring until the mixture has reached 115°C, 239°F on a sugar thermometer, or has reached the soft-ball stage. To test for the soft-ball stage, drop a little of the caramel into cold water; it’s ready when you can form this drop into a ball, and it flattens when you take it out of the water. 

2 When the caramel is ready, remove the saucepan from the heat, whisk in the sea salt flakes and the smooth peanut butter. Immediately pour the caramel into the bowl of popcorn, and stir to coat each piece of popcorn completely.

3 Press the caramel-coated popcorn into a tray lined with baking paper and allow it to cool at room temperature before cutting it into bars.

Sunday Indo Life Magazine