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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what a prize!

A few weeks ago the Today section of the paper ran an article about food blogs and mentioned Jennifer Reese’s blog tipsybaker.com and her book “Bake the Bread, Buy the Butter — What you should and shouldn’t cook from scratch”. The article went on to discuss her book which documents her various successes (and failures) in making everyday foods from scratch. Foods such as ketchup, bagels, ginger ale and camembert cheese. What?!… Hello!… this woman is speaking my language, she could be my long lost soul sister! If I’ve told my husband once I’ve told him 30,000 times that my fondest wish is to learn how to make cheese, a few weeks ago my son and I made and bottled homemade root beer and I was seriously just talking about attempting to make a batch of bialys (the not so distant cousin if the bagel) from scratch just the other day!

So naturally I ordered the book.

When it arrived I immediately thought, so many choices…how do I decide what to make first? I opened the book to a random page, read the words Caramel Corn and thought “it must be fate!” You see, Santa just brought my children a super-duper retro style popcorn maker for Christmas. We’ve made (and enjoyed) popcorn nearly every weekend since it’s arrival, but so far our creativity has been limited to sea salt and grated cheese. And while I ordinarily try to make snacks for my kids that are both healthy and delicious, sometimes unhealthy and fun is just what the day calls for. Last Saturday, amid our first snow of the season, was just that kind of day. And so it seemed my choice had been made…

Homemade Caramel Corn
This recipe produces a caramel corn which more closely resembles Poppycock than a traditional Cracker Jack.

1 tbsp. coconut oil
1/2 cup popcorn kernels
2 cups salted, roasted peanuts
1 cup brown sugar, packed
1/2 cup dark corn syrup
1 stick unsalted butter
1/2 tsp. salt
1 tbsp. vanilla extract
1/2 tsp. baking soda

  1. Preheat oven to 250°F. 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. In a large bowl combine the popcorn and half the peanuts. Set aside.
  3. In a saucepan, combine the sugar, corn syrup, butter and salt and bring to a boil over medium heat. Allow to boil for 5 minutes, remove from the heat and stir in the vanilla and baking soda.
  4. Immediately pour half of the sugar mixture over the popcorn and peanuts. With a large rubber spatula gently stir everything until it is well combined. Spoon the popcorn onto a jelly roll pan, spreading it out as evenly as possible. Drizzle the remaining sugar syrup over the popcorn and sprinkle with the rest of the peanuts.
  5. Put the pan in the oven and bake for 45 minutes. Let cool and break into bite size chunks.
  6. Store at room temperature in a glass container or resealable plastic bag.

* adapted from bake the bread, buy the butter