White chocolate, salty cashews, and refreshing peppermint oil make for a surprising trifecta of flavors for this festive popcorn you won’t be able to stop snacking on! It’s also perfect for stocking stuffers and gift giving.
December brings out the best in all of us with the bestest of intentions.
We overcommit. “Yes! We’d love to get together with friends we haven’t seen all year! I’ll host!”
We overindulge. “Oh why not? I already had one **___fill in the blank here___**, what’s the harm in just one more?”
And we overspend and overdo. “I just need to get a little something for the mailman, their teachers, my hairdresser, their coach, his clients, my Secret Santa, the neighbors, the dogwalker and the list never ends. never ends. never ends.”
At this stage of the gift giving game, your time to be a jolly old elf is slipping away like stealthy Santa and his reindeer-led sleigh. If you eschew gift cards (“they’re convenient but so lame!”) and Chia pets aren’t really your thing (Duck Dynasty, really?), jump into the DIY gift giving scene with an easy enough lesson from me.
Now that I’ve fulfilled my annual Night Before Christmas rhyming yarn, let’s simply talk about what makes this recipe so dang good and so ultimately easy to knock out and give away. And there are more than one reasons why.
# 1: It’s the chocolate.
Well of course it is. Creamy sweet white chocolate that clings to every crevasse, nook and cranny of perfectly popped corn kernel. I use Apeel chocolate wafers from Orson Gygi, my local restaurant supply. You can also find the chocolates here, here and here.
#2: It’s the popcorn.
This is no ordinary popcorn. It’s called Mushroom popcorn. It pops in extra big puffs for more area for the chocolate to adhere to and I especially love it because I rarely get a bite of a hard unpopped kernal lodged in the lot. You can find it here.
We broke out the popcorn popper Smudge got for her birthday this year that I swear was given to her by her aunt and uncle who giggled and gave us the side eye when my husband and I both had the same thought…”Where are we going to put this thing?” But I must say, I’m glad we have it because it makes killer popcorn.
#3: It’s minty fresh.
I add a few drops of peppermint oil to the white chocolate before coating the popcorn kernels and cashews. Peppermint oil, like this one, works. Peppermint extract does not. Oil mixes into chocolate, extract that contains water will make your chocolate seize. If you think about using food coloring to add color to the white chocolate, remember to use oil based food color as well.
#4: It’s a different kind of salty crunch!
When I was shopping for the chocolate I ran into my friend Barbara of Barbara Bakes (did you see her Chocolate Chip Cheesecake Brownies? Whoa.) I asked her what she thought I should add to the popcorn. She didn’t hesitate, “NUTS! and MORE NUTS!” I went with her recommendation of cashews but pistachios or buttery macadamia nuts would be tasty too.
#5: It makes a package filled with minty cheer.
You could easily pop these kernels into Christmasy plastic bags or buy a few fun vessels to show them off in. Or make it easy (like I did) and use canning bottles from your stash of long gone summer pickles.
White Chocolate Peppermint Popcorn
Place the chocolate discs in a microwave safe bowl and melt in bursts of 20 seconds, stirring between each burst. Alternately, melt the chocolate in a heat proof bowl set over a saucepan filled with 1 inch of water, bring to a boil and stir the chocolate often. Stir in a few drops of the peppermint oil to taste. It will be strong so start with a light hand.
Pour the popcorn and cashews into a large bowl (do in batches if necessary.) Pour the melted chocolate over the popcorn and cashews and stir to combine. Pour out in a single layer on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper and let it dry completely.
While popcorn mixture is drying, melt the red and green chocolate using your preferred method.
Once the popcorn is completely dry, use a fork to scoop a bit of the red chocolate and drizzle it over the popcorn n streaks. Let the chocolate dry and then repeat with the green chocolate. Allow chocolate to dry between colors.
Once all the layers are dry, use a clean spatula to carefully scrape the bottoms of the baking sheets to lift and break apart the popcorn.
lightly adapted from Orson Gygi
Make it a great day friends, and cook something good.
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