(Family Features) No matter the occasion, every celebration is better with snacks. Whether you’re hosting game day with the guys, catching up with girlfriends, gathering for family movie night or inviting your kids’ friends over for a grade school sleepover, you can’t go wrong with popcorn treats.
Popcorn is the perfect partner for a broad span of flavors, especially when they’re sweet or salty – or both. You can make each mouthwatering bite pop even more by adding texture with crunchy nuts or silky melted chocolate.
Even if you simply serve plain popcorn to your guests, you can feel good about serving healthy, whole grain, freshly popped popcorn, which is naturally low in fat and calories, non-GMO and gluten free.
Find more ways to pop up more fun for your next party at popcorn.org.
Caramel-Nut Popcorn Crunch
Yield: 20 pieces
10 cups freshly popped popcorn
2 cups whole almonds
1 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
1/2 cup butter or margarine
1/4 cup light corn syrup
2 teaspoons vanilla
1 teaspoon almond extract
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
Heat oven to 225 F. Spray 15-by-10-inch baking sheet with nonstick spray.
In large bowl, mix popcorn and almonds.
In medium saucepan, combine brown sugar, butter and corn syrup. Over low heat, stir mixture until sugar dissolves. Increase heat to high and boil 5 minutes. Remove from heat; stir in vanilla, almond extract and baking soda.
Pour over popcorn and almonds, immediately stirring gently to coat. Pour mixture onto prepared baking sheet, spreading evenly.
Bake 1 hour. Cool completely. Break into pieces and store in airtight container.
Maple Bacon Popcorn Mix
Yield: 2 quarts
6 slices thick-cut bacon
1/4 cup pure maple syrup, divided
8 cups popped popcorn
2/3 cup pecan halves, coarsely chopped
2/3 cup dried cranberries
2 tablespoons butter or margarine
1/4 teaspoon coarse ground black pepper
1/4 teaspoon maple extract
Heat oven to 400 F.
Line jelly roll pan with foil. Place wire rack in pan. Arrange bacon in single layer on rack. Bake 15 minutes, or until ends of bacon start to curl. Remove and reserve 2 tablespoons bacon drippings. Brush bacon with 2 tablespoons maple syrup; bake 15 minutes until browned. Cool then coarsely chop bacon.
In large bowl, combine popcorn, pecans and cranberries.
Combine butter, black pepper, maple extract, remaining maple syrup and reserved bacon drippings. Cook over low heat until butter is melted. Drizzle over popcorn mixture and mix thoroughly.
Spread popcorn mixture in jelly roll or roasting pan. Bake 5 minutes. Toss in bacon pieces. Serve warm.
Yield: 2 quarts
2 quarts popped popcorn
1/4 cup (1/2 stick) butter or margarine
1/2 cup creamy peanut butter
1 cup milk or semi-sweet chocolate chips
1 cup confectioners’ sugar
Place popcorn in large bowl; set aside.
In microwave safe bowl, combine butter, peanut butter and chocolate chips. Microwave 2 minutes; stir until smooth.
Pour chocolate mixture over popcorn and stir until well coated. Sprinkle confectioners’ sugar over popcorn and stir until coated.
Cool to room temperature before serving. Store in airtight container, refrigerated, up to 24 hours.
English Toffee Popcorn Bars
Yield: 20 bars
2 1/2 quarts popped popcorn
1 cup peanuts
1 cup flaked coconut, toasted
1 1/2 cups butter or margarine
1 1/2 cups sugar
3 tablespoons water
4 1/2 teaspoons light corn syrup
1 1/2 cups (9 ounces) chocolate pieces
1 tablespoon shortening
Heat oven to 200 F.
In large bowl, combine popcorn, peanuts and toasted coconut. Cover bottom of buttered 15 1/2-by-10 1/2-by-1-inch jelly roll pan with half of the popcorn mixture. Keep filled pan and remaining popcorn mixture warm in oven.
To make toffee: In heavy 2-quart saucepan, melt butter over low heat. Add sugar and blend well.
Continue to cook over low heat, stirring constantly, until mixture reaches full boil. Add water and corn syrup; mix well.
Wash down sides of pan with pastry brush dipped in water to remove any sugar granules.
Cook and stir over low heat until mixture reaches soft-crack stage on candy thermometer (280 F). Immediately pour mixture over warm popcorn in jelly-roll pan, making certain all popcorn is covered. Quickly spread and press remaining popcorn mixture into hot toffee. Set aside to cool.
For topping, melt chocolate and shortening over low heat. Spread over popcorn mixture, making certain any loose pieces are held in place.
Cool. Cut into bars. If bars will not be served immediately, wrap in plastic wrap for storage.