Published Thursday, November 29, 2012

Popping up some tasty holiday treats

From Staff Reports

closeup@newnan.com

The Popcorn Board has lots of great holiday snack ideas from coconut snowballs to popcorn snowmen.

Find recipes at www.popcorn.org .

It’s fun to make popcorn on the stove top whether you are making garland or an edible treat. If you haven’t used that method in a while, follow some basic tips.

To pop popcorn on a range-top, assemble the following:

A 3 to 4 quart pan with a loose lid that allows steam to escape

At least enough popcorn to cover the bottom of the pan, one kernel deep

1/3 cup of oil for every cup of kernels (Don’t use butter!)

Heat the oil to 400 - 460°F (if the oil smokes, it is too hot). Test the oil on a couple of kernels. When they pop, add the rest of the popcorn, cover the pan and shake to evenly spread the oil. When the popping begins to slow, remove the pan from the stove-top. The heated oil will still pop the remaining kernels.

Pre-salting kernels toughens popcorn. So, salt the popcorn after it has been popped – or skip salt altogether and add salt-free spices.

The general measure rule is “One (1) ounce of un-popped popcorn equals a quart popped.”

Try these recipes for cranberry popcorn balls, a ginger-flavored mix, or a white chocolate/peppermint bark courtesy of The Popcorn Board:

Cranberry Popcorn Balls

Yield: 18 balls

Ingredients:

2 cups sugar

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1 cup whole berry cranberry sauce, slightly mashed

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1 Tablespoon grated orange peel

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1/2 cup cranberry juice

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1/2 cup light corn syrup

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1 teaspoon vinegar

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1/2 teaspoon salt

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5 quarts unsalted popped popcorn

Directions:

Combine all ingredients, except popcorn, in a heavy saucepan.

Bring to a boil; lower heat and cook to 250°F on a candy thermometer. Mixture will bubble up in pan, so watch to keep from boiling over.

Pour slowly onto hot popcorn and mix until well-coated.

Let stand 5 minutes or until mixture can easily be formed into balls. Butter hands and form into 3-inch balls.

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Gingersnap Popcorn Snack Mix

Yield: 2 quarts

Ingredients:

2 quarts popped popcorn

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Butter flavored cooking spray

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1/3 cup granulated sugar substitute

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2 teaspoon ground ginger

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1/2 teaspoon freshly ground nutmeg

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1/4 teaspoon cinnamon

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1/4 teaspoon ground cloves

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1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black or white pepper

Directions:

Preheat oven to 325° F.

Spread popcorn on baking sheet and spray lightly with the cooking spray.

Combine remaining ingredients in a small bowl and sprinkle evenly over popcorn.

Spray again with cooking spray and toss to coat evenly.

Bake 7 minutes and serve warm.

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White Chocolate Peppermint Popcorn Bark

Yield: 1 pound

Ingredients:

5 cups popped popcorn

12 ounces white chocolate baking chips, chopped white chocolate or white candy coating

1 cup crushed hard candy peppermints

Directions:

Cover a baking pan with foil or wax paper; set aside.

Place popcorn in a large bowl; set aside.

Melt chocolate in a double boiler over barely simmering water, stirring until smooth OR melt according to package directions.

Stir in crushed peppermints after chocolate is melted.

Pour chocolate mixture over popcorn mixture and stir to coat.

Spread onto prepared pan; allow to cool completely.

When chocolate is cooled and set, break into chunks for serving.

Store in an air-tight container at room temperature.

A variation is White Chocolate Popcorn Crunch, made by omitting the candy peppermints.

Mix 1/2 cup dried sweetened cranberries and 1/2 cup sliced almonds with the popcorn instead.

Pour chocolate over the mixture after it is melted.

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