Wing it: Chocolate Speculoos Popcorn

I’ve been playing around a lot with Speculoos spread recently and thought I’d throw it in some popcorn and see what happened. Naturally, great things happened. If you’re unfamiliar with Speculoos, it’s a tea biscuit from Belgium that I think of as a cross between a graham cracker and a gingersnap. You can find them at Wegmans, Fairway, and many other large supermarkets. The spread is what you get when you crush up the biscuits and add some other emulsifying stuff. It’s also known as cookie butter, easily found at Trader Joe’s, and is better than Nutella. It has a somewhat spicy flavor and fun texture that is fun to bake with.

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I hoped that melting the spread with chocolate chips would make for a good popcorn topping, and I was right. I didn’t bother measuring anything; the amounts are mostly based on personal preference anyway. Here’s what you need to do:

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Step 1: Make some popcorn from scratch. You can buy popcorn kernels at the grocery store, and either pop them on the stove (instructions here), or in a large microwaveable bowl. Cover the bottom of the bowl with one layer of kernels, and cover with a plate that fits over the bowl. Microwave the popcorn until there are 3 seconds between the pops. Sprinkle salt to taste.

 

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Step 2: Microwave some chocolate chips and Speculoos spread on high in 15 second intervals. If you’re not sure you’ve microwaved enough, it’s easy to add more later.

 

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Step 3: Pour the meltedness on the popcorn and coat evenly with a spoon, rubber scraper, or both.

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Step 4: Spread the popcorn onto a baking sheet covered with parchment paper and stick in the fridge for at least 20 minutes so the chocolate can solidify.

 

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Step 5: Take out and enjoy! Great as is for a party dessert, or on top of ice cream!

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Top 5 of 2015

As we ring in another new year, I thought to look back on the passing year with a post of my favorite recipes of 2015, that I know I’ll be coming back to.

Enjoy, and Happy New Year! See you all in 2016 😀

 

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Lemon Zucchini Bread – delicious and easy quick bread with lemony zing

 

 

 

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Pop Quiz – all you need to know about popcorn and making it from scratch

 

 

 

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Flourless Peanut Butter Cookies – a hit with your non-dairy, gluten-free, and omnivore friends alike

 

 

 

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White (Chocolate) Drizzled Lavender Shortbread – attractive and attainable party goals

 

 

 

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Dad’s Mango Bread – a new family recipe that’s always a good idea

 

Pop Quiz


     I think we all have some room to improve our popcorn consumption. When eaten responsibly, it has many health benefits: a surprisingly high concentration of antioxidants, fiber, whole grain heartiness, plus it’s low in calories. But if you go for the microwaveable movie popcorn, or sticky kettle corn, you’re filling your body with things less than good for you: trans fats, high fructose corn syrup, artificial flavors, funny chemicals from the microwave bag, and coloring. Coloring? It’s so much better for your body and taste buds to make your own popcorn. It’s not as hard as it sounds! I took some time to answer my own questions about the easiest ways to make popcorn, and what to do with it after. Here’s some inspiration for popping, seasoning, and snacking your way through your Netflix queue.



Can you really use a brown paper bag to make popcorn?

Short answer: Yes!
Long answer: You sure could, but I don’t think it’s the easiest way. It’s definitely not the neatest! Here’s a recipe from Serious Eats

1/2 cup popcorn kernels
1/2 teaspoon oil
Pinch of salt

Put everything in a small bowl to get all the kernels covered in oil. Place in a brown paper bag, then fold over well enough so it doesn’t open in the microwave. Place in microwave on high for 2 minutes, or until there are two seconds between pops.

I folded the bag like this, and it stayed very sealed in the microwave. Now you’ve got your popcorn in a bag. Hopefully the bottom didn’t burn like mine did. You can probably practice this method until you’ve got it down to no burning and minimal unpopped kernels, but there’s also another way, which we’ll get to.



What is nutritional yeast, and why should I put it on my popcorn?





Short answer: A cheesy topping to liven up the party.
Long answer: Technically, yes, nutritional yeast is a yeast of sorts, except it won’t make your bread rise. It’s full of amino acids and potassium, and has something of a cheesy taste to it. My friends introduced this combination to me, and a lot of people do it, but it’s a taste I’m still acquiring. Try it as a cheese substitute and see what you think. I’m pretty sure you can find it by the spices in your grocery store.



Can I make dessert popcorn myself, too?


Short answer: Yes, and it tastes darn good.
Long answer: Just microwave some dark chocolate, throw in a touch of butter if you want, drizzle it over your bowl of popcorn, toss that bowl of popcorn, lay the popcorn out flat onto parchment paper, and throw in the fridge for a bit so the chocolate can harden up. If you want, you can wait for it to get to room temperature when you take it out, or you can eat up! Try drizzling some peanut butter in there if you want. Dessert-y, but not overwhelmingly sweet or messy! Still airy and awesome.


What’s the best way to make popcorn?

Short answer: Over the stove.
Long answer: Grab a pot, cover the bottom with oil (vegetable oil, olive oil, even coconut oil). Let that heat up a bit. Add some salt – and some sugar if you want to go the kettle route – and the popcorn kernels; just enough to cover the bottom of the pot, or less (or more if you trust your popcorning instincts). Set the heat to high, and wait for the kernels to pop, constantly moving the pot over the heat to avoid burning, and allow the unpopped kernels to fall to the bottom. Remove from heat when two seconds separate the popping. There will probably be some stray pops anyway. Once you’ve transferred the popcorn to a bowl, you can add more salt, sugar, butter, or any other seasoning you want. Get creative! If you want to add butter, just melt some in the pot you just finished using.
This method yields as much as you want, and has a great crisp texture/fresh taste. In my opinion, better than the microwave method.




Making your own popcorn is really not as scary as it might seem. And if that’s not reason enough, buying popcorn kernels instead of the microwaveable stuff is WAY cheaper. Impress your friends at your next party with your own snack creation. They will probably be inspired to make their own.
Happy popping!


Bonus:
What do I do with leftover popcorn?
Answer: Fold them into your cookies!

PSA

     This is a public service announcement. For all you innovative thinkers and die-hard believers, go do you. Don’t be afraid of what The Man has to say about your ridiculous ideas and true efforts to create. For all you naysayers and Debbie Downers, eat some cake. Give love a chance. Hug a dog. Don’t take life so seriously. Be happy. But most importantly relevantly, don’t knock it till you try it.

     Sometimes you want chocolate chip cookies and you have no brown sugar. But you do have a large tub of molasses. Wam bam shazam half a cup of normal people sugar and a teaspoon of molasses later, crisis averted.

     I have nothing more to say for myself. Except for I’m not the first to think of this, so…don’t blame me. And to go do something crazy and ridiculous and love it. Yeah. That’s about it.

Let’s take a closer look at that. In case you missed it. That’s popcorn in a batter of chocolate chip cookies.
Have a great, productive day. And Eid Mubarak!

Popcorned Chocolate Chip Cookies
Makes about 15 cookies
1/2 cup butter
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
1 tsp vanilla
1 egg
1 1/4 cups flour
1 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 cup chocolate chips
As much popcorn as you like
-These would also benefit from some coarse sea salt for sprinkling
Combine butter and brown sugar until creamy. Add vanilla and egg. Combine dry ingredients and add to butter etc. Stir in chocolate chips. Carefully fold in popped popcorn kernels. Cook in oven at 350 degrees F for 8-10 minutes. Let cool before eating.
Recipe note: these are one of maybe no other cookies that I have discovered to be better a day old, so try and save some for tomorrow. I’m not entirely sure why, but I’ll bet it helps that everything is cooled cool enough to experience all tehe flavors and texture together. Yum.

Pre-Thanksgiving Shenanigans

The basics: food hanging around the house the day before Thanksgiving, either being prepped or eaten, mostly shot with my real-life camera
Tea marinade for the duck…yeah man.
Getting artsy with the acorn
Mystery pie; to be revealed tomorrow! Stop by to find out
Pumpkin pie; may or may not have been mildly reprimanded in the making of this image
Duck chillin out, literally
Stove-cooked popcorn to end the day; better than yours
Also, creative s’mores.