May 10, 2015

Mother's Day Recipe Round Up

Happy Mother's Day to all you mamas out there! To celebrate, I figured I'd do a round up of all of my mama's favorite recipes from the blog.

Got any good mother's day plans? We're going into Brooklyn to celebrate my great uncle's birthday, but we'll have to work in a Marvel movie at some point because that's become tradition and you don't mess with tradition.

Spinach and Artichoke Bites: My mother keeps asking me when I'm making these again.
Cheesecake Stuffed Portal Cake: This was my brother's birthday cake, but my mom has already requested the same for her birthday. Or just the cheesecake part.
Raspberry Red Wine Sauce: I always have to save an extra jar just for her.
Cherry Almond Oatmeal Cookies
Mom: I want you to make me my cookies
Me: Your cookies?
Mom: Yeah, the cherry ones.
Sfogliatelle Scones: My mom is the one who actually named these scones, deciding that they tasted like one of her favorite Italian pastries but in the form of one of her favorite breakfast pastries
Raspberry Nutella Marshmallows: Whenever the subject of marshmallows comes up, my mom always says. "you should make the Nutella ones again. Those were good."
Zucchini Brownies: I actually developed this recipe for my mom in my pre-bloggy days. Fat free, super moist and chocolatey with hidden veggies, these are one of her favorite low-guilt treats
Raspberry Red Wine Ice Cream: This ice cream was inspired by the raspberry sauce above and has quickly become a favorite.
White Chocolate Chip Cupcakes: My mom often requested these cupcakes in my pre-bloggy days.

May 3, 2015

Salted Caramel Death Star Popcorn Balls

Tomorrow is Star Wars Day! YAAAAAAY! (For those of you that are new here, May 4th is Star Wars Day because May the fourth be with you. Get it?)

To celebrate, I made multiple Death Stars. Out of popcorn and caramel. And then I covered them in candy. I don't think that's what the actual Death Star was made out of, because then the rebels wouldn't have needed Luke's Force-guided missile aim to blow it up. They could have just sent a couple Wookiees in to eat it. I'm sure Chewie would volunteer.
I've never actually made popcorn balls before. I mean, I've done marshmallow popcorn treats (like krispie treats, but with popcorn), and while I suppose that you could make those into balls and call them popcorn balls, I wanted to try something a little closer to the old fashioned method.

Except that the old fashioned method uses sugar and corn syrup, and I was worried that dipping them in the melted candy would make them too sweet. So I found this recipe from Food Network for caramel popcorn balls that was basically the same but used honey and brown sugar instead.
For my part, I thought the honey flavor was a little too strong, so if I made them again, I'd probably try some maple syrup or maybe dark corn syrup, but other than that, they were delicious. And fairly simple to make, providing you have the time and patience required for boiling sugar. (Never take your eyes off the stove when cooking sugar. CONSTANT VIGILANCE). Bonus, I had some extra popcorn left because the caramel had hardened too much to make another popcorn ball, so I spread it on a lined baking sheet to cool, and it made the perfect caramel corn. It was like the stuff you get in the tins at Christmas, only better because you made it.

One thing I didn't love was that the caramel, by necessity, was still pretty warm when I was shaping the popcorn balls. You have a very small window of opportunity between cool enough to not burn and hardened caramel, and I have very sensitive hands. So if you have sensitive hands like I do, use a pair of rubber gloves for that part (just spray them with cooking spray so the candy doesn't stick).
Then, when they had set, I dipped them in a mix of melted black and white candy wafers to get a dark grey, and I used some black sparkle gel to do some very simple detailing. Easy peasy.

Salted Caramel Popcorn Balls
Yield: About 12 popcorn balls

Approx. 8 cups popped popcorn
1 cup packed brown sugar
1/2 cup honey
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter
1 1/4 tsp. salt*
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/4 tsp. vanilla extract
To decorate: black and white candy melts, black decorating icing

Generously grease a large mixing bowl with nonstick cooking spray. Pop your popcorn using your preferred method and place it in the bowl.

In a saucepan over medium heat, combine the brown sugar, honey, and unsalted butter, stirring constantly until it comes to a boil. Allow it to boil, stirring occasionally to prevent sticking, until it reaches 300 degrees F on a candy thermometer. Remove from heat and quickly stir in the salt and baking soda. Stir in the vanilla and pour over the popcorn, stirring until well coated. Let sit until cool enough to handle, about 5 minutes (it will still be very warm).

Line a baking sheet with waxed paper. Dip your hands in water to prevent sticking and shape the popcorn into balls about 3 1/2 inches wide. Place on the prepared baking sheet and let them sit until the caramel has completely set, about 10 minutes.

Melt the black and white candy melts together. Coat each popcorn ball in the melted candy, letting the excess drip off, then place back on the lined baking sheet. Chill in the refrigerator for about 10 minutes, or until the candy has hardened. Decorate with black decorating icing. Store in an airtight container at room temperature.

*Adjust this amount to suit your personal preference. If using prepackaged microwave popcorn, add only 1/4 tsp salt, since your popcorn will already be salted.

Recipe adapted slightly from Food Network

Things you may need (affiliate links):

*Disclaimer: This post contains affiliate links*

Other Star Wars Day Treats: