Honey Roasted Peanut Popcorn Balls

Honey Roasted Peanut Popcorn Balls2

Welcome to Day 2 of the 12 Days of Christmas Series on Cooking is My Sport! Just in case you missed the first post yesterday, I’ll include a complete list of the recipes at the end of each post as we go through all of the days.

Let’s talk about Christmas popcorn tins. You all know which ones I’m talking about; the metal tins with the fancy, or sometimes wonky designs on the outside and three flavors of popcorn on the inside. Yeah, those. I’ve got mixed feelings about the Christmas popcorn tins. When I was young I really dug them, but in retrospect I kinda chalk that up to being a young, growing girl with a rabbit fast metabolism that could eat just about any Christmas treat without complaining. Now, eh…I’m not much of a fan. But for the sake of conversation, I’ll give my own rating of each of the flavors:

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The caramel corn is the obvious star of the three for me; there’s very little that caramelized sugar cannot make taste good, and the combination of the sweet with the saltiness of the popcorn is a pretty solid combination. Caramel corn for the win- 8/10

The regular butter popcorn is…well, regular butter popcorn. If the popcorn you’re buying is still relatively fresh (meaning it didn’t come from a dollar or low-budget store), then it’ll taste pretty decent. I gotta say though, I rarely get a strong butter flavor from it. It’s something for you to eat when you get the munchies, but not much else- 5/10

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The loser of the Christmas popcorn tins is the cheese flavored popcorn- no question. Whenever someone gave us a tin for a gift when we were growing up, none of us would touch the stuff. It just stayed there, untouched while the caramel corn and butter popcorn would get eaten. I don’t even know where to start with what’s wrong with the cheese popcorn: for one, the cheese coating just tastes so artificial and processed. Number two, it sticks and coats on your hands and turns them orange (blegh, yucky fingers). Three, there’s just something about the cheese coating that makes the popcorn taste stale to me. I’ll pass on the cheese popcorn every time, thank you- 2/10

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Before I even started baking for the Christmas series on the blog, I knew I wanted to make popcorn balls. They’re easy, they make GREAT gifts for friends and co-workers at Christmas parties, you can poke holes through them and hang them on a tree for decoration, and there are so many different flavor combinations that you can use when putting them together. I did two flavors this year, and this was one of them.

Think about a sweetened honey roasted peanut; now think about the saltiness of that peanut meeting and melting with a sticky caramel coating. That’s what these are. Salty, sweet balls of goodness. Think it can’t get better than that? Think again- the stickiness of the coating is tempered by the crunchy outer layer of sesame seeds that the balls get rolled in after they’re molded. So friggin good. I literally had to stop myself after taking an undisclosed amount of bites. They’re kryptonite powerful. So you should get in your kitchen and make some, stat.

Thanks for following our series, and once again: if you’re late to party then feel free to check out the complete list of recipe links for this year’s 12 Days of Christmas below!

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Day 1: Cranberry-Clementine Toaster Tarts

Day 2: Honey Roasted Peanut Popcorn Balls

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Honey Roasted Peanut Popcorn Balls


Recipe Adapted from Food Network Magazine

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Ingredients

  • 12 cups freshly popped popcorn (preferably made over the stove)
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 2 tbsp. butter, plus 2-3 extra tbsp. for buttering your hands
  • 1/4 cup creamy peanut butter
  • 1/2 cup confectioner’s sugar
  • 1 tbsp. water
  • 1 cup honey roasted peanuts, roughly chopped
  • Toasted sesame seeds, for rolling (about 3/4 cup)

 Directions

1. Bring honey, butter, peanut butter, confectioners’ sugar and water to a boil in a large pot over medium heat, stirring.

2. Remove from the heat; using a rubber spatula, stir in popcorn and 1 cup chopped salted mixed nuts until coated.

3. Butter your hands, then shape into balls and roll in toasted sesame seeds, working quickly before balls cool off. Place finished balls on parchment paper lined baking racks to set.

My Grandma’s Peanut Brittle

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12 Days of Christmas Treats

Christmas Facts Continue:

1. Did you know if Santa Claus was alive today he would be 1739 yrs old? (The kid in me wants to say: “But he IS still alive…isn’t he?” lol)

2.Did you know originally the 9th reindeer that Santa had was actually called “Rollo”? (Rollo the Red Nose Reindeer…doesn’t really have that much of a ring to it, does it?)

3. Did you know in Morocco, Santa Claus is called “Black Peter”? (Umm….I don’t get it. Why?)

Source

Peanut Brittle1

This another one of those recipes that I’m extremely proud of myself for pulling off. To be honest, I wasn’t sure that I was gonna be able to. Peanut brittle is literally candy, and there’s always been something about making candy from scratch that’s scared the living bejeesus out of me. There’s so much to worry about; temperature, stirring, burning, cooling, consistency- ugh.

In this case however, I was prepared to roll up my sleeves, suck it up, and make an exception. My grandma’s peanut brittle is worth it. More than worth it. It’s been a Christmas institution in my family for literally as long as I can remember. My grandma always made it since my grandpa’s a huge fan of nuts. Being a ‘grandpa’s girl’, I wanted to eat whatever it was that he was eating. The best part was, I didn’t even have to pretend that I liked it just because he did. From the very first time that I sampled peanut brittle, I loved it. The saltiness of the peanuts works so well with the rich caramel flavor of the brittle. It’s seriously addictive.

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As you can see, the peanut brittle fortunately turned out pretty well. Luck? I don’t think so. In fact, I know so. In retrospect, I can see several essential factors that played into this recipe’s success:

1. A Candy thermomemeter. I can’t emphasize the necessity of having this on hand when making peanut brittle enough. i’m pretty positive that if I hadn’t had one of these suckers, I would’ve messed up the whole thing. If you’re not experienced with making candy, then you must have a candy thermometer. I repeat: you MUST have a candy thermometer. Also if possible, try to use a candy thermometer that gives the numbers, as well as the various ‘candy stages’  (Soft Ball, Hard Ball, Soft Crack, Hard Crack, etc), and one that clips onto the saucepan so you don’t have to keep pulling  it out of the caramel.

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2. Stirring. The recipe will tell you to stir the caramel constantly as it cooks, but I’m gonna place a particular emphasis on it here too. Just so you know that it’s serious. Stir. Stir. Stir. I’m not saying that you have to be glued to the stove top, but don’t wander off to do laundry, take a shower or anything that keeps your eyes off the saucepan for longer than 1-2 minutes. You’d be surprised how easily this stuff can stick to the bottom of the pan and burn, especially nearing the end when it’s almost done. You don’t want it to happen to you. At all. Once it does, the burnt flavor will get into the entire caramel and the batch will be ruined.

3. Butter your sheet pan thoroughly. When the caramel is done cooking and is ready to spread out, it’s gonna be very hot, but it’s also gonna be VERY sticky. Making sure the sheet pan is nice and oiled up with butter ensures that the brittle will spread as quickly as possible, and will also come off easily when it’s fully hardened.

I know it may sound intimidating, but if you just follow the directions, and my tips, this peanut brittle really isn’t so hard at all. And it’s definitely worth it!

I don’t think this movie needs much of an introduction, or defense. If you’re looking for feel-good movie at Christmas (or come to think of it, any time of year) then Love Actually is a must see. It’s a romantic comedy that takes place in the UK, featuring a stellar cast each with their own personal stories and challenges that interweave with one another that all center around…love actually. I’ve watched this movie twice already and I just may try to sneak it in one more time before Christmas. Because all I really need this time of year is my family and love…actually.

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My Grandma’s Peanut Brittle

CLICK HERE FOR PRINTABLE VERSION

Ingredients

*2 tbsp butter

* 2 tsp baking soda

* 1 tsp vanilla extract

*2 cups raw peanuts

*2 cups sugar

* 1 cup white corn syrup

*1/2 cup water

Directions

1. Bring 1/2 cup water to boil. Add 2 cups sugar and 1 cup white syrup.

2. Now add 2 cups raw peanuts and cook slowly over a low fire until hard crack stage (300°-310º), stirring constantly.

3. Take from heat and add 2 tbsp butter, 2 tsp baling soda and 1 vanilla extract. Stir quickly.

4. Spread on large, well buttered cookies sheet. Place in refrigerator until completely hardened and shiny. Use a knife to break up the pieces of peanut brittle into shards. It should crack easily.

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