POP UP holiday traditions new and old

popcorn

FROM FAMILY FEATURES 

From decorating the tree to carving the turkey, there are many time-honored holiday traditions observed by families around the country. However, the holiday season is about more than just celebrating old traditions. 

A perfect opportunity for creating new memories and, in turn, traditions, popcorn can serve as an ideal ingredient to bring family time to life. Whether wrapping the tree with garland made from the light and airy treat, filling clear ornaments with freshly popped kernels or simply popping up a bowl as a nutritious alternative to other holiday noshes, popcorn makes it easy to get hands-on while you deck the halls.

These seasonal recipes for traditional treats like peppermint bark and popcorn balls plus edible trees and a more elegant take on a simple snack highlight low-fat, non-GMO, gluten-free whole-grain popcorn as the main ingredient. Find more modern takes on traditional holiday recipes at popcorn.org.


popcorn

EASY, ELEGANT HOLIDAY POPCORN 

Yield: 8 cups 

  • 8 cups popped popcorn
  • 1/2 cup milk chocolate chips
  • 1/2 cup white chocolate chips
  • candy sprinkles

Line baking sheet with wax paper. Spread popcorn in thin layer on prepared pan. 

Place chocolate chips in microwave-safe bowl. Microwave on medium 30 seconds; stir. If necessary, microwave in additional 10-second increments, stirring after each heating, until chips are melted and smooth. Drizzle over popcorn. 

Place white chocolate chips in separate microwave-safe bowl. Microwave on medium 30 seconds; stir. If necessary, microwave in additional 10-second increments, stirring after each heating, until chips are melted and smooth. Drizzle over popcorn. 

Sprinkle desired amount of candy sprinkles over warm chocolate-coated popcorn. 

Allow chocolate drizzles to set until firm. Break popcorn into pieces. 

Note: Chocolate chips can be replaced with cut up chocolate bars.


WHITE CHOCOLATE PEPPERMINT POPCORN BARK 

Yield: 1 pound 

  • 5 cups popped popcorn
  • 12 ounces white chocolate baking chips
  • 1 cup crushed hard candy peppermints

Cover baking pan with foil or wax paper; set aside. Place popcorn in large bowl; set aside. 

In double boiler over barely simmering water, melt chocolate, stirring until smooth.

Stir in crushed peppermints. Pour chocolate mixture over popcorn and stir to coat. Spread onto prepared pan; cool completely. When chocolate is cooled and set, break into chunks.


CRANBERRY POPCORN BALLS 

Yield: 18 balls 

  • 2 cups sugar
  • 1 cup whole berry cranberry sauce, slightly mashed
  • 1 tablespoon grated orange peel
  • 1/2 cup cranberry juice
  • 1/2 cup light corn syrup
  • 1 teaspoon vinegar
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 5 quarts unsalted, popped popcorn
  • butter

In heavy saucepan, combine sugar, cranberry sauce, grated orange peel, cranberry juice, corn syrup, vinegar and salt. 

Bring to boil; lower heat and cook until temperature reaches 250 F on candy thermometer. 

Slowly pour cranberry mixture onto hot popcorn; mix until well-coated. 

Let stand 5 minutes, or until mixture can easily be formed into balls. 

Butter hands and form into 3-inch balls.


FESTIVE POPCORN TREES 

Yield: 10 trees 

  • 10 cups air-popped popcorn
  • 1 bag (10 ounces) miniature marshmallows
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • nonstick cooking spray
  • green decorating sugar
  • blue decorating sugar
  • 1 tube white frosting
  • small, colorful candies such as
    sprinkles and miniature silver dragees

Place popcorn in large bowl. In medium saucepan over medium-low heat, stir marshmallows and butter until marshmallows are melted and mixture is smooth. Remove from heat. 

Stir in vanilla extract. Pour mixture over popcorn in bowl. Toss well to coat popcorn evenly. 

Line baking sheet with foil. Spray hands with nonstick cooking spray then scoop about 1 cup popcorn mixture. 

Shape mixture into cone, keeping base flat to form tree. 

Sprinkle tree with decorating sugars; place tree on baking sheet.

Make nine additional trees. Using decorating tip, pipe frosting on trees to make garland then decorate with sprinkles and silver dragees, as desired. 

Serving suggestion: Place each tree on sugar cookie and decorate serving tray with shredded coconut to resemble snow. 

Notes: For best flavor and color, start recipe with unflavored white popcorn. 

You can make colored sugar by adding food coloring to sugar then stirring in bowl or shaking vigorously in sealed container. Add additional food coloring for more intense tones.

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