survive a snow day popcorn

I am so over this winter. I was home with my kids for nine years and we barely had enough snow to go sledding. I go back to work and New Jersey ends up having a Winter that could make Celine Dion feel at home. (She’s Canadian, get it. Never mind…) The kids have already used all their snow days, so it looks like they’ll be in school until at least mid-July. Our inflatable tube for sledding popped early in the season and since the stores are full of bathing suits and sunscreen, forget about replacing it. Northern NJ is reportedly out of salt, which would explain why the short drive to school has become more like an Olympic slalom course. And don’t get me started on the gluttonous amount of “well it is a snow-day” treats we’ve all been enjoying these past few weeks. I’m not just talking about the soft pretzels and snack bars, no I’m talking about the countless marshmallows we’ve roasted in the fireplace, the batches of cookies and muffins we’ve consumed, the ice cream at lunch because “you played so hard in the snow” and most recently the dark chocolate drizzled popcorn.

We eat a considerable amount of popcorn around here. After school every Friday I make the kids a big bowl of the stuff and pop in a DVD. They chill (usually with minimal bickering or complaining) and I get a little time to get dinner started or putter around without having to tell anyone to stop yelling, stop mauling the dog or stop annoying each other— it’s become a nice relaxing way to start the weekend. Popcorn and dvd’s have also become this mom’s saving grace during this exceptionally cold winter. Our last big snow storm had the kids pounding on the backdoor with red little noses and frozen tears in their eyes about ten minutes after going out. “Hot chocolate!” they cried “And popcorn…” Chocolate and popcorn, that’s a crazy combination… or is it? In the past I’ve made homemade Caramel Corn, which was a totally tasty and “junky” treat, but it was a bit involved. What if I simplified the sugared popcorn idea and instead made something like Dark Chocolate Drizzled Popcorn?!?

It turns out that those half-frozen kids of mine were actually onto something… a seriously delicious, totally addictive and super easy to make treat and the perfect reward for surviving yet another snow day. Enjoy!

Dark Chocolate Drizzled Popcorn
Crazy. Addictive. Delicious.

choc popcorn2

1 tbsp. coconut oil
1/2 cup jumbo popcorn kernels (such as Pop-Secret)
3.5 oz. 60% cacao bittersweet chocolate, chopped
1 tsp. sea salt, divided

  1. Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment and set aside. Add the coconut oil to a large pot and allow to melt. Add the popcorn kernels, cover, and allow to continue warming. As the popcorn begins to pop, shake pan. Once the popping slows to 2-3 seconds between pops, immediately remove the pan from the heat.
  2. Pour the popcorn onto the prepared baking sheet in as even of a layer as possible, removing any unpopped or partially popped kernels.
  3. Place the chocolate in a double-boiler (or a glass bowl over a pot of boiling water) and heat until the chocolate becomes completely liquid when stirred. Remove from heat and stir in 1/2 teaspoon of salt.
  4. Pour the melted chocolate into a small ziploc bag, snip off a tiny bit of one corner of the bag and drizzle the chocolate evenly all over the popcorn. Immediately sprinkle with the remaining 1/2 teaspoon salt and let sit in a cool spot until the chocolate has hardened, about 1 hour.
  5. I understand that this will keep for a few days in an airtight container— Good luck with that!

*adapted from the washington post

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Homemade Ice Cream Cookie Sandwiches— Oh Yeah.

I collect cookie jars. Vintage McCoy cookie jars to be precise. I’ve collected them for years, way before I had little people to make cookies with or for. You see I have a weakness for housewares. When I was a young girl I would go to the local department store with my mother and head straight for the fine china department. I would walk around and around the beautiful sets of dinnerware and crystal, dreaming of which patterns I choose one day when I was grown up. This would therefore explain why I own five sets of dishes (we had a yard sale and I sold two “extra” sets), enough serving pieces to easily set a buffet for a hundred, a ridiculous number of tiny antique aperitif glasses, a crazy collection of water pitchers and just about every size and shape cocktail glass you could ask for. Feel like margaritas? I’ve got the glasses… Red wine? But of course, balloon or bordeaux… Champagne? Got it… Dark and Stormy? Yup, swizzle sticks too! I could go on but you get the picture.

Okay, so back to cookie jars… I own many. And while most of them are currently in the attic I do have a few of my favorites in the kitchen. One holds loose change, one holds bric-a-brac that we may need to get our hands on one day and the remainder hold dust, the odd button and perhaps a few pebbles from the beach or an old parkway token. That is except one. If you’re a frequent guest at my house then you know exactly which cookie jar I’m speaking of. It’s the one that’s almost always filled with some homemade delight. Since family and friends have come to expect homemade cookies at our house I do my best to keep it full, but sometimes cookie making gets pushed to the back burner. I always know its time to refill the cookie jar when I hear the lid being lifted and replaced, followed immediately by a sad-faced individual wandering into the room.

It happened to be time for me to whip up another batch for my nearly empty jar, but with the arrival of warm weather the kids have been more inclined to ask for popsicles as a snack than cookies. So, I wondered to myself, how do you think they would feel about cookies turned into ice cream sandwiches?…

I’ll give you one guess as to how they felt about homemade ice cream cookie sandwiches. If these two little people could have hoisted me on their shoulders and marched me around the room I think they would have. Instead I got a “Mom you and these are THE BEST!”, which was even better.

Brown Sugar Double Chocolate Chip Cookies
The addition of a little bit of espresso powder really kicks the dark chocolate flavor up a notch. One batch of these cookies typically makes about two dozen cookies, certainly enough to make ice cream sandwiches and enjoy solo as well.

1 1/2 cups flour
2 tbsp. + 2 tsp. dark cocoa powder
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1 stick butter, melted
3/4 cup brown sugar, packed
1 egg
1/2 tsp. instant espresso powder, dissolved in 1 tsp. of water
1 tsp. vanilla
1 tbsp. milk
1 tbsp. plain yogurt
5 oz. dark chocolate morsels* (these are bigger than ordinary chips)

  1. Preheat oven to 350°F and line two cookies sheets with parchment paper.
  2. Mix the flour, cocoa powder and baking soda together in a medium bowl; set aside.
  3. Cream together the butter and brown sugar until thoroughly blended. Add the egg, espresso/water, vanilla, milk and yogurt and mix well. Add half of the flour mixture to the wet ingredients and mix, add the remaining flour and mix until completely blended. Gently fold in the chips.
  4. Using a cookie scoop or tablespoon place mounds of dough on the prepared cookie sheets.
  5. Bake for 12-15 minutes or until the cookies have spread a bit and the tops have begun to crack, but are still soft to the touch.
  6. Transfer cookies to racks to cool and enjoy with a loved one and an ice-cold glass of milk, or use to create ice cream sandwiches.

*In the past I have also made these with 3/4 cup peanut butter chips instead of the morsels. Holy cow they were good!

Ice Cream Sandwiches
Having all the ingredients cold when you assemble these seems to be the key to building a successful ice cream sandwich.

Ice cream in flavors of your choice
Homemade chocolate cookies

  1. Place pre-baked chocolate cookies in the freezer to chill for 15 minutes.
  2. Working quickly, one flavor at a time, place a generous scoop of ice cream in the center of each cookie and top with a second. Place the completed sandwich on a cookie sheet in the freezer and repeat with remaining cookies and ice cream flavors.
  3. Chill ice cream sandwiches for at least an hour before serving. Store in an air tight container in the freezer or gobble up immediately.