Today, as we examine the art of sweet snacking, we point your attention to popcorn. You may not have experimented with it yet, but that’s because you don’t know how easy it is. Sure, it’s a salty movie night staple, but when drizzled, mixed and tossed with sugary extras, it transforms into candy.
Don’t just take it from us: food bloggers and Pinterest mavens alike have started making this magical treat on the regular—clearly it’s time you give it a try, too.
1. Mint Chip
Some people use tinted mint frosting to get that cool green color we know and love. Others opt for white chocolate, melted and mixed with a few drops of green food coloring before shaking it up with the popcorn. If you want to take it to the absolute next level, try crushed-up Thin Mint cookies, instead.
2. Red Velvet
This recipe is made with actual cake, crumbled up and sprinkled generously into white chocolate-glazed popcorn. It’s a food blogger favorite, though maybe a little daunting for non-chefs.
If you’re not in the mood to whip up a red velvet cake, a lot of artisan candy makers offer versions of this. New York foodie and DJ Dallas Green offers it by the fancy mini-bag from his fledgling “Made from Scratch NY” dessert line, for instance.
3. Chocolate Peppermint
This holiday party favorite can get made with melted dark chocolate, white chocolate, or both. Just mix in some crushed peppermint candy or Thin Mints. Some people toss in a few nuts or tiny pillow mints as a festive garnish. The only real rule here is that the chocolate-mint flavor combo has to dominate.
4. Pecan Praline
Praline is a traditional Southern candy made with brown sugar and butter. The popcorn version uses liquid praline (regular praline combined with corn syrup), which should get poured over popcorn and pecans almost immediately after reaching its boiling point. This recipe is very similar to caramel corn—if you want to up the candy factor, toss in a handful of broken-up praline candies, as well.
5. Salted Toffee Chocolate
This gourmet caramel corn upgrade hits so many taste bud triggers. It’s delicious, salty, buttery, crunchy, chocolatey and chewy. It’s nuts! Or, it can be if you decide to toss in some almonds or cashews alongside the toffee chunks and rock salt. Drizzled with chocolate and caramel, this is a candy bar you can serve by the bowlful.
6. Maple Bacon
Those of you in the “everything’s better with bacon” camp are thinking “duh.” And, yes, the flavor combo that works so well with waffles and ice cream also pairs with popcorn. Pop it, toss it with maple syrup, shake it together with crunchy bacon, and drizzle it with chocolate for the full “artisan” effect.
7. Candybar Popcorn
Easiest candy popcorn hacks ever! Melt some chocolate, maybe a bit of caramel, break up a few chocolate-based bars into small pieces and shake mixture up with popcorn. This combination works beautifully with Butterfingers, Snickers, Reese’s, and probably any other chocolate candy bar that heavily features caramel, nuts, and toffee.
8. Healthy Coconut Crackerjacks
If all these recipes are a bit too sugary or fatty for your taste, you’re not alone. Healthy recipe bloggers have gone to great lengths creating non-junk versions of their favorites. Social media personality @bewellwitharielle created a perfect Cracker Jack replacement using coconut oil with some brown rice syrup and maple syrup to make the candy glaze. Then, instead of candied peanuts, throw in a few almonds and unsweetened coconut flakes. Magic!
9. Amaretto Cherry Nutcracker
Another recipe that lands on the lighter, less-processed end of the spectrum is this one. It uses the essence of amaretto oil to flavor the caramel glaze and THEN uses dried cherries instead of candy for that sweet burst we crave. It’s one of many gourmet popcorn variations sold by Michigan-based chocolatier Alpine Chocolat Haus. Most are available for online purchase.
10. Have a Ball!
No matter what flavor combo you’re making at home, here’s a tiny tip to achieve a Pinterest-worthy presentation: When the popcorn candy mixture has cooled enough to handle it—but isn’t so cool that it hardens—hand-shape the servings into balls. When they cool entirely, they’ll set that way! Lightly grease your hands before attempting this, though, because otherwise the melted candy will stick to you. Not that we’re complaining.