There’s certainly no shortage of sweet treats this time of year. Mountains of glittering, foil-wrapped candies adorn office desks and kitchen counters alike, tempting passersby to indulge at every turn. Though the abundance of goodies excites my sweet tooth, the wide range of offerings all too often prove disappointing to my taste buds; throat-searing sugary centers enrobed in waxy chocolate coatings are more common than not, each morsel putting on a festive facade to mask its flat flavors. Time and again, each new crop of bewitching confections fails to satisfy. Stop the madness, I say! Step away from the shiny packages and seek solace in a far more satisfying popcorn snack experience.
Popcorn, the crisp, fluffy kernels that boast an impressive serving of fiber in each handful are the savior of peckish healthy eaters everywhere. This workhorse snack provides the perfect blank canvas for a Halloween treat that’s a far lesser evil than those frightful mass-produced candies.
Tinted a monstrous shade of green thanks to the bold addition of green tea powder, each bite of this popcorn snack recipe rings with the complex interplay of sweet and bitter tastes, each on perfect harmony. Crunchy clusters of pumpkin seeds round out the mix with a subtly nutty flavor, suiting both the theme and season to a “T.” Drizzling dark chocolate over the top is really gilding the lily, but for an event as devilish as Halloween, it seems appropriate to pull out all the stops.
Though little trick-or-treaters may not appreciate this more mature, sugar-coated delight, that only means there’s more of this delicious popcorn snack to go around for the rest of us. It may appear to yield and intimidating amount of glorious green kernels, but don’t you dream of reducing the recipe. Not even the most sour ghost or ghoul could resist its wicked charm.
- 6 cups freshly popped popcorn
- 1 cup raw pumpkin seeds
- ¾ cup granulated sugar
- 2 teaspoons matcha powder (a.k.a. green tea powder)
- ¼ cup light non-GMO corn syrup (can sub brown rice syrup, if desired)
- 1 tablespoon non-dairy margarine or coconut oil, melted
- ½ teaspoon salt
- ½ teaspoon vanilla extract
- 4 ounces dairy-free dark chocolate (I like Scharffenberger), melted
- Preheat your oven to 200ºF and lightly grease a jelly roll pan or any rimmed baking sheet. Combine the popped corn and pumpkin seeds in a large bowl and set aside.
- In medium saucepan with high sides, combine the sugar, matcha powder, corn syrup, melted margarine or coconut oil, and salt. Whisk vigorously to break up any small clumps of matcha before proceeding. They can be tricky to disperse, especially in hot liquids, so don't be afraid to really beat the mixture up while you have the chance.
- Set the pan on the stove over medium heat. Periodically stir as the mixture heats up, until the sugar has dissolved. Once it reaches a full boil, stop stirring and allow it to cook at a lively bubble for 5 minutes. Don't rush it!
- Remove from heat and stir in vanilla. Working quickly but carefully, pour the hot sugar syrup over your bowl of popped corn and gently stir to coat. Transfer the entire thing over to your prepared baking pan, spreading it out into an even a layer as possible, and move it into your oven. Bake, stirring every 15 minutes, for 1 hour.
- Let cool completely before drizzling all over with melted chocolate. Allow the chocolate to fully set before breaking the popcorn into large clusters.
- Store in an airtight container in a cool place for 3 - 4 days, maximum.