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A Super Snack with Pop

Aug 03, 2015 05:15AM ● Published by Family Features

Make your next friendly gathering a popping success with desserts and snacks made from a wholesome simple grain. Not only does popcorn bring out the kid in everyone, it’s a naturally healthy treat you can feel good about serving your guests. And, because it’s naturally low in fat and calories, non-GMO and gluten free, you can rest assured that party-goers will keep popping back by for one more guilt-free bite.

What’s more, freshly popped corn makes it easy to tickle all your guests’ taste bud cravings. Salty, spicy, sweet — the options are nearly endless. Serve it up with flavors already mixed in, or let guests mix and match their own favorite toppings to create unique tastes of popcorn perfection.

From Seed to Snack
Popcorn, like all six types of corn, is a cereal grain. It resembles corn on the cob in appearance and cultivation, but only pop-corn kernels have the ability to pop. Most of the world’s popcorn is grown in the central United States.

Popcorn is usually harvested with a combine, which strips the ear from the stalk and shells the kernels from the cob. The kernels are then loaded into a truck and transported to a storage bin for drying. Then, after cleaning and sorting, kernels are packaged for distribution, allowing Americans to consume more than 16 billion quarts of popped popcorn each year.

A DIY Dessert that Pops
A popcorn bar is a fun and easy way to have guests take an active role in the party. Provide a wide range of toppings and watch them get creative dreaming up delicious flavor combinations. You can even host a taste test and award prizes to the tastiest concoctions.

Simply set out a large bowl of popcorn and surround it with smaller bowls with various popcorn fixings. Let each person fill a paper bag or other container with popcorn and top or mix with their desired flavorings.

Topping ideas:

  • Dried fruit (raisins, cranberries, apricots)
  • Dried herbs and spices (oregano, cinnamon, nutmeg)
  • Nuts (pine nuts, peanuts, slivered almonds, pumpkin seeds)
  • Small candies (chocolate pieces, peanut butter chips, marshmallows)

These recipes make it easy to prepare crowd-pleasers for all ages ahead of time so you can focus on the fun. Find more festive popcorn recipes to help plan your next party at www.popcorn.org.

Nutty ’n’ Natural Popcorn

Ingredients

  • 2 tablespoons sunflower seed kernels, finely ground
  • 2 tablespoons almonds, finely ground
  • 2 tablespoons walnuts or hazelnuts, finely ground
  • 4-6 tablespoons melted margarine or butter
  • 2 1/2 quarts popped popcorn
  • 2 tablespoons wheat germ
  • 1 6-ounce package (1 2/3 cups) chopped dried fruits and raisins

Preparation

  1. Pour melted margarine over popcorn. Sprinkle with ground nuts and wheat germ; toss to mix. Stir in dried fruits.

Marmalade Popcorn Balls

Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 cups sugar
  • 1 1/4 cups water
  • 1 cup orange marmalade
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup light corn syrup
  • 1 teaspoon vinegar
  • 5 quarts popped popcorn

Preparation

  1. In saucepan combine sugar, water, marmalade, salt, light corn syrup and vinegar. Bring to boil, stirring until sugar dissolves. Cook to hard-ball stage (250°F).
  2. Pour slowly over popped popcorn and mix thoroughly. Butter hands and shape into 2 1/2-inch balls.

Sea Salt Caramel Popcorn

Ingredients

  • 2 quarts popped popcorn
  • 1 1/2 cups pecan halves
  • 1/2 cup almonds
  • 1 1/3 cups granulated sugar
  • 1 cup (2 sticks) butter or margarine
  • 1/2 cup light corn syrup
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 teaspoon coarse sea salt

Preparation

  1. Line large, rimmed 17-by-12-inch baking pan with foil and spray lightly with cooking spray; set aside.
  2. Spray large glass or metal bowl with cooking spray and place popcorn and nuts inside.
  3. In medium saucepan, combine granulated sugar, butter and corn syrup. Bring to boil over medium heat, stirring constantly. Clip on candy thermometer and boil, stirring occasionally, until temperature reaches 290°F (about 15 minutes). Remove candy thermometer and stir in vanilla. Pour mixture over popcorn and stir to coat well.
  4. Spread popcorn mixture in even layer on prepared baking pan. Sprinkle with sea salt and allow to cool completely before breaking into pieces to serve.
  5. Store in an airtight container.

Sponsored by The Popcorn Board

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