Monday, March 28, 2011
CHOCOLATE PEANUT BUTTER POPCORN
I was going to a sleepover and wanted to bring a sweet snack, but the hostess had a wheat allergy, which ruled out the usual cookies or cake. So I delved into my Delicious bookmarks and found this recipe from Tasty Kitchen: the familiar Chex Muddy Buddies/Puppy Chow, but using popcorn instead of rice cereal. Genius! Granted, I could have just made Muddy Buddies, since Rice Chex is gluten-free, but (a) I happen to know that the hostess is a big popcorn fan; and (b) I have something of a chocolate-popcorn obsession, stemming from Proustian recollections of my childhood, when my mother would often give me a bowl of popcorn and a mug of cocoa as a wintertime snack, and I would dip pieces of popcorn into the cocoa. (This may have been inspired by Laura Ingalls Wilder’s Farmer Boy, one of the best food books for children ever, where one of the many treats Almanzo and his siblings enjoy is popcorn in milk.) People I’ve told this to over the years have often been grossed out by this, but really, I think I was ahead of the curve on the whole sweet-salty trend, because I remember loving the way the chocolate tasted with the buttery salted popcorn. Also, the kernels shriveled up in a fascinating way—try it sometime! About five years ago, after hearing this reminiscence, my boss thoughtfully gave me a bag of chocolate-covered popcorn from Sarris Candies for Christmas. It was so mind-blowingly good that I’ve wanted to try making my own ever since, and finally I had the perfect opportunity.
Not surprisingly, the result was spectacularly awesome. It wasn’t pretty to look at, but it couldn’t have been easier to make or more addictive to eat. All of it got devoured that night at the party, so I can’t tell you how long this will keep. The chocolate coating never firms up completely thanks to the other ingredients, so I would imagine that the popcorn will get soggy after a few days, but it will still be popcorn covered with peanut butter and chocolate and thus far from repulsive. I did decrease the powdered sugar slightly, from 1½ cups to just 1 cup, because I don’t care for super-sweet desserts and really wanted more of that bitter chocolate flavor to come through. You can use however much suits your taste. I think next time I’d go even farther and consider adding some salt along with the sugar.
9 cups air-popped popcorn (be sure to remove any unpopped kernels)
1 cup semisweet chocolate chips
½ cup natural peanut butter (I recommend smooth and salted)
¼ cup butter
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 to 1½ cups powdered sugar
1. Place chocolate chips, peanut butter, and butter in a large microwave-safe bowl and microwave for 30-second intervals, stirring in between, until melted and smooth. (If you don’t have a microwave, you can melt the ingredients over a double boiler instead.) Stir in the vanilla.
2. Place the popped popcorn in a large bowl and pour the chocolate mixture over it. Stir until evenly coated. Add the powdered sugar and stir until each piece is covered (I recommend starting with 1 cup, tasting it, and then adding up to ½ cup more sugar if desired). Spread out on cookie sheets lined with waxed paper to set the chocolate. Store in an airtight container.
Time: 15 minutes
Leftover potential: Unknown