Friday, December 7, 2012

Festive Friday: Gingerbread Popcorn

Festive Friday: You always need room to squeeze in a few more treats around the holidays. 

Friday's in December are going to look a little different around here.  December is the one month I can bake all day and then whip up way too many treats without trying to find a decent excuse.  Christmas parties and treat trays are the perfect time time to try out those new cookie recipes or stir up a batch of candy.  Between our traditional treats and all the new ones I'm planning to try, I decided we'll replace Fermented Friday with something a little more festive.  That's not to say our Festive Friday treats won't contain some form of fermentation, (eggnog? rum fudge? brandied cherries? fruitcake???...only time will tell) but no guarantees either.

Now that that's out of the way, let's get to our first Festive Friday treat. Gingerbread popcorn. It's like caramel corn on crack.  Okay, not really, but you know what I mean.  It is super addicting though.

Sweet, buttery caramel flavors collide with traditional gingerbread spices of cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, and cloves.  Molasses replaces part of the corn syrup for an extra rich flavor.  

After far too much 'sampling' I realized the flavor of this crunchy concoction reminded me of Cookie Butter (Biscoff Spread).  To double check my conclusion I got out the jar for a little taste testing.  The popcorn falls on the sweeter, more buttery side than the spread, but I was pleasantly surprised at the resemblance nonetheless.  I'm not sure I could have gotten it that close on the spices if I were trying.  Hmmm, this may call for a little more research just to be sure.

If you don't eat the entire batch yourself this would make a great Christmas gift for friends, neighbors, teachers, hostesses, etc.  If you're the crafty type I'm sure you could come up with a cute tin or tie ribbons around a mason jar or cellophane bag, then print the recipe on a festive little card.  Or you could just eat it yourself, I won't tell. 

Gingerbread Popcorn

14 cups popped popcorn
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter
1 cup packed brown sugar
1/4 cup corn syrup
1/4 cup molasses
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp ground ginger
1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
1/4 tsp ground cloves
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 tsp baking soda

* Preheat oven to 250 degrees. Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper; set aside. Place popcorn in a large heat-proof bowl or roasting pan, removing any unpopped kernels; set aside.  
* In a 2-quart saucepan combine butter, brown sugar, corn syrup, molasses, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, cloves and salt. Bring to a rapid boil over medium to medium-high heat. Continue boiling 3 minutes, stirring frequently. 
* Remove from heat and stir in baking soda; mixture will foam. Pour over popcorn and stir to coat. Spread popcorn onto prepared baking sheet and bake 1 hour, stirring every 15 minutes. Let cool before breaking into pieces. Store in an airtight container or resealable plastic bag.

Food for Thought: "Christmas is not a time or a season, but a state of mind. To cherish peace and goodwill, to be plenteous in mercy, is to have the real spirit of Christmas." -Calvin Coolidge 

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