January 2, 2014

Real-Deal Chocolate-Covered Popcorn

Today seemed like a good time to share a little of the "chocoholic" part of Guilty Chocoholic Mama!

Here's an article I originally submitted for my column in Kalamazoo Parent magazine; this spotlights a Guetschow family chocolate classic: Chocolate-Covered Popcorn. Trust me: you need this in your life.





Dear Elizabeth,
We hope you like camp and had a good night your first day there. We think of you each day and will say a prayer for you at suppertime. I’m writing this on Saturday, so not much has happened that you don’t already know about…

Thus began a letter my mom sent to me when I was away at camp one summer during my elementary-school years. Actually, she sent it before I had even left home in order to ensure I would get mail early in the week. My mom was, clearly, a dedicated correspondent, and her missives about the weather and my family’s activities (particularly those of my sister, Missy, and my brother, Paul) at home in my absence helped assuage my slight homesickness.

We really had a good rain last night and this morning—everything is turning green again. I’m making pickles, and we might go over to Grandpa’s for lunch today. Daddy had two ballgames last night, and Paul went with him, but Missy and I stayed home and played “beauty shop.” Missy says “hello” and Paul says to tell you he’s “still here.”

My mom favored letters over care-packages. Our family budget was tight, and letters were far less expensive to mail. Also, I was only gone a week at a time and could easily survive that long on camp food. But if she had sent me a care package, my mom might well have enclosed a batch of Chocolate-Covered Popcorn. This gooey treat is a legendary family classic that travels well, is relatively inexpensive to mail, and keeps for days.  This is not, mind you, mere plain popcorn drizzled perfunctorily with melted chocolate. Nor is it caramel corn similarly treated.  This is popcorn fully encased in a chewy chocolate coating, almost like chocolate caramel. Stir up a batch and send it to your away-from-home child. I promise: you’ll have one happy camper, indeed.

Chocolate-Covered Popcorn
14-16 cups plain popped popcorn (I use an air-popper and make 1 ½ batches)
½ cup sugar
½ cup light corn syrup
¼ cup butter (no substitutions), cut into chunks
Dash salt
2 ounces unsweetened baking chocolate, chopped
1 teaspoon vanilla
Nonstick cooking spray

Preheat oven to 300°. Place popped popcorn in a large roasting pan or other extra-large baking pan coated with cooking spray.  (If you do not have an extra-large pan, you can use 2 9x13-inch baking pans and divide the popcorn evenly between them.) Bake at 300° for 15 minutes, stirring every 5 minutes; this removes extra moisture from the popcorn so the finished product will be crisp. Combine sugar, corn syrup, butter, salt, and chocolate in a 2-cup microwave-safe measure or small microwave-safe bowl.  Microwave on High power 2 minutes or until boiling, stirring after 1 minute. Watch carefully unless you want to create a chocolate volcano in your microwave! Remove from microwave and stir in vanilla. Carefully pour the very warm chocolate mixture over the popcorn and toss gently to coat using a large spoon or spatula. Serve immediately or allow to cool in the pan before packing up to mail to your favorite camper. Makes about 14 cups…enough to send to camp with some left over for the home crowd. 

5 comments:

  1. Okay, now I'm beginning to think even our moms are similar - my mom would mail me letters before I left for camp, too! And she actually never missed a day of sending me something for every day that I was away from home training (for figure skating) on the other side of the country every summer. I should go thank her for all those letters again..mine were full of the exciting news about what tv show she and my dad had watched, along with updates on how many times the dogs barked to be let out...

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    1. Lisa, I've got to get the scoop on your figure skating. I am fascinated by that. Did I see you in the Olympics and not know it? Also, I am on the floor laughing over your mom writing about how many times the dog barked to be let out...

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    2. I wasn't in the Olympics, but I was training with those who were (I had the same coach as Scott Hamilton) and I spent 15 years as a coach before taking a break to try and slow down so I could hopefully get pregnant before all my friends became grandmothers. A new rink is opening up closer to our home next year, so I might slowly get back into that world, in which case I'm sure I'll be sharing a lot more skating stuff on the blog. Oh, and my mom's notes also often included what they ate for dinner that day and what errands they ran...Such excitement!

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  2. Well sad I missed this recipe last week for National Popcorn Lover's Day, I guess I'll just have to make a batch this week! ;)

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    1. Victoria, you've got the right view on this: there is NO expiration date on making Chocolate Covered Popcorn! ;)(Although our entire family did go on sympathetic hiatus from it when my older daughter had braces and could not eat it. CCP was the first thing I made when she got them off!:))

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I'd love to hear from you! Feel free to tell me what you really think. Years ago, I explained to my then-two-year that my appointment with a counselor was "sort of like going to a doctor who will help me be a better mommy." Without blinking, she replied, "You'd better go every day." All of which is just to say I've spent some time in the school of brutal honesty!