Buttered Popcorn and Buncha Crunch Ice Cream

Yes, you read that right.

This is the ice cream of your childhood fantasies. This is the slogan of your campaign for Vice President of the fourth grade. This is the first time you went to the movies without parents and spent all your hard-earned babysitting money on both Bruncha Crunch and refillable popcorn, and combined them into one sweet and salty pile of perfection.

close-up of popcorn steeping in cream on the stovetop

Buncha Crunch is a movie theatre candy released in 1994, the height of classic Disney. It is no coincidence that my generation grew up at the movies, sprinkling our popcorn baskets with these bite-sized crispy chocolates. If you haven’t tried it, I recommend you go see Coco (the best movie I’ve seen in ages), pour some Buncha Crunch all over your popcorn, and proceed to sob through the entire show.

A bowl of homemade buncha crunch surrounded by unravelling film tape and popcorn kernels
Photo by Nicole Slevin

There’s only one thing I’d change about Buncha Crunch. I prefer dark chocolate over milk chocolate. So for this recipe, I made my own Buncha Crunch with 70% dark chocolate from Ghirardelli (fansáy) and crispy rice cereal.

Melted chocolate mixed with crisped rice on top of wax paper

And to ensure sure it doesn’t become too hard in the freezer, I also add a little dollop of coconut oil to the melted chocolate mixture. Coconut oil will, in a way, lower the freezing point, so that when you take a spoonful of butter-popcorn ice cream, you won’t hit rock hard chocolate rice crisps. They may even still melt in your mouth.

The key to a woman’s heart is through her stomach, so for our Netflix nights, my significant other prepares bougie homemade popcorn with parmesan or avocado oil. But don’t use the fancy stuff in this recipe. This calls for the stickiest, butteriest popcorn you can find.

Hot popcorn fresh out of the microwave bag

As for Netflix, I’ve been hooked on The Crown. If you also love The Crown and popcorn, you should see this:


And finally, the end result:

DSC_1203.jpgTwo scoops of the finished ice cream in front of popcorn kernels and a stick of butter

Ingredients:For the Buncha Crunch

  • 2.5 ounces (or 1/2 cup) dark chocolate, roughly chopped
  • 1/2 cup crispy rice cereal
  • 1 teaspoon of coconut oil
  • 1/8 teaspoon of sea salt

For the ice cream base:

  • 1 3/4 cups milk
  • 1 3/4 cups heavy cream
  • 1/2 cup powdered milk
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 bag of microwave popcorn (or very buttery homemade equivalent)
  • 4 egg yolks

Directions:Buncha Crunch:

  1. Line a plate or brownie pan with wax or parchment paper.
  2. Melt the chocolate and coconut oil in the microwave.
  3. In a small bowl, use a spatula to gently combine the melted mixture with the crisped rice. Once combined, pour the mixture onto the parchment paper and spread it out evenly and flat, but it doesn’t have to be perfect. We just want to avoid tall peaks, where the chocolate will slide off and leave a very unchocolately piece of crisped rice.
  4. Sprinkle evenly with sea salt. Store in the fridge to cool down until hardened.

Ice Cream:

  1. Prepare the popcorn according to the bag’s instructions.
  2. Heat the milk, heavy cream, and powdered milk in a medium pot. Stir until powder dissolves. Add the sugar and stir until dissolved. As soon as the milk mixture is visibly steaming or about 160°F (70° C), turn off the heat.
  3. Add the popped popcorn into the milk. Don’t worry about kernels. You may have to add popcorn in batches as it melts in so that the pot doesn’t overflow with popcorn. Sprinkle with the salt. Steep for 1-2 hours.
  4. Strain the milk/popcorn mixture, and discard the popcorn. Pour the steeped milk  back into a pot of similar size. Add the egg yolks to the milk and lightly whisk or stir until well combined. Heat on medium until the mixture reaches between 160°-172°F (70-78°C). Turn off the heat immediately. Transfer to a container with a lid, and store in the refrigerator for about 4 hours (alternatively, you can transfer to a bowl in an ice bath, and cool until it reaches 45°F (7°C)).
  5. While you’re waiting for that, make the Buncha Crunch, if you haven’t already!
  6. Pour the ice cream base into your ice cream maker and churn according to the manufacturer’s instructions.
  7. Take the hardened Buncha Crunch out of the fridge. Chop it up into small bits, no bigger than a dime.
  8. When the ice cream is almost done churning, pour in as much Buncha Crunch as you’d like. Transfer the ice cream to a storage container and freeze for 4-8 hours for maximum scoopability, or eat it right out of the ice cream maker for yummy soft serve.