WoodmenLife President & CEO Denise McCauley sits in front of a fireplace, holding a framed picture on her lap. At the center of the framed picture is the recipe for Chocolate Popcorn; the paper has browned with age. One either side of the recipe is a photo, one of McCauley's mom and one of her mom's grandma.

From the Kitchen of WoodmenLife President & CEO Denise McCauley: Chocolate Popcorn

Mar 28, 20243/28/2024

Leadership Thoughts



WoodmenLife is committed to supporting your family. So we thought it would be nice to get to know each other better by sharing a little from the WoodmenLife family. Here, President & CEO Denise McCauley shares a family recipe and the memories that make it so special. Hopefully when you make it, you can create special family memories of your own.

* * *

Growing up, every Saturday night my family had popcorn as we watched TV. My dad prepared the popcorn, and sometimes we had buttered popcorn. But the best nights were when my mom made her special recipe for Chocolate Popcorn. We would beg her to do so.

Once we grew up, all of my siblings and I went on to share and enjoy the recipe with our families. My husband is now very good at making it.

My mom passed away in 2003. But prior to that, she lived close enough to me that I usually convinced her to come over and prepare it for me, as hers was the best. It is a little tricky, as humidity can affect the outcome, so I am not sure that any of us perfected it to the point of my mom.

A few years after my mom passed away, I was helping my aunt (my mom’s sister) clean out my grandma’s home when she was moving into a care facility. In doing so, I found the original Chocolate Popcorn recipe that came from my mom’s grandma.

The recipe isn’t the same as my mom’s — but it was the original recipe that my mom eventually adjusted. My entire family was so excited about finding this recipe, as it means so much to all of us.

About a year after finding this original recipe, I made a homemade Christmas gift for my family members, which I am holding in the picture. It is a picture of my mom, her grandma and the original recipe.

My mom was a fantastic cook, and enjoying her food is always a great memory of her.


Chocolate Popcorn

Prepare a large bowl of popcorn, buttered and salted. Do not use microwave popcorn. Set aside while you prepare the chocolate.

Chocolate Preparation:

1½ cups sugar

2 tbsp. cocoa

¾ cup milk

Dash of salt

1 tsp. vanilla

Mix all ingredients into a large saucepan. Boil until soft ball stage or 235-240 degrees via a candy thermometer. Pour chocolate over popcorn that was set aside. Mix as you pour in until all popcorn is coated with chocolate.



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