This time of year, I’m always looking for a way to have my kids participate in my love of cooking and help with our homemade gifts. I’ve found that they lose interest if it takes too long, so I’ve learned to make some delicious treats that are ready quickly. One of my favorites is chocolate-covered popcorn.
The idea for chocolate-covered popcorn came courtesy of my friend Amy, who showed me how to make it years ago. The most important thing is to have a good number of cookie sheets on hand—you will need one sheet per bag of microwaved popcorn plus one extra.
Line all cookie sheets with parchment or waxed paper. Using naturally flavored microwave popcorn if possible, pop it in the microwave for the required time. Dump the popcorn on to a cookie sheet. Using your hands (kids can also do this part,) remove all popped corn and place it on a second lined cookie sheet, leaving the un-popped and half popped kernels on the original sheet. Discard the rejected kernels, but keep the paper.
Place a large handful of melting chocolate discs* in a bowl. I use milk chocolate and dark chocolate. Microwave at half power for about 90 seconds (times will vary) and stir. If there are any lumps, continue microwaving at 20-second intervals until completely smooth.
Using a spoon, drizzle one type of chocolate on the popcorn—this is the part my kids love to do. More is better, so coat heavily. Once finished, continue with the other chocolate, then set aside to harden. Hardening takes about 20 to 30 minutes—you can speed the process along by refrigerating it.
Once hardened, place the empty, parchment lined cookie sheet on top of the cookie sheet filled with your popcorn and flip the popcorn on to the first sheet. Your second sheet will now be empty. If you have made more than one batch, line that sheet with parchment and continue flipping. Warm a new batch of chocolates in the microwave as instructed above and let the kids repeat the drizzling process. Allow the popcorn to harden.
Once it is ready, place the popcorn in a decorated cellophane bag or Chinese takeout box. Tie with a pretty ribbon, affix a cute sticker, and you’re ready to give a gift that is sure to get rave reviews!
Just be sure to let the kids take all the credit!
* Melting chocolate can usually be found this time of year at a grocery store, but I get mine at Sallie’s Cake and Candy Supplies (14340 Manchester, 636-394-3030).