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Popcorn Cake: The All-Round Party Favourite

by onJanuary 7, 2013
 
Neighbours.They’re the angels next door – not quite family, mostly friends and altogether special people, without wings.The ones God uses to teach us,  to give us salt and sugar when we run out, to learn new dishes and how to hold a pencil correctly, share stories, talk about life and growing children, about marriage and about futures.I love my neighbours and I wouldn’t trade any one of them for anything.DSC_1358From The Netherlands to Nigeria, we – our neighbours and us, have established traditions of partying often. In the estate where we live now, in Port Harcourt, we’ve had a number of sit-and-chill dos, chatting, laughing, sharing histories, creating memories and feasting on food! Most times, everyone brings something so it is a truly ‘together’ affair.Last January, we had a small strawberry fest, to usher in the New Year, and our discovery of strawberries in Nigeria. Can a fruit be a patron saint, I ask? ‘Cause if that were possible, then strawberries would become one for our New Years in Nigeria, in Port Harcourt, in our estate. This year would be no exception.And though I don’t have Neighbour Ware like Celia does, we do gift lots of food and drinks, amongst ourselves. Everything from live catfish (watch out for my New Orleans Blue Plate special), to Olde Jamaica Ginger beer (the best ginger beer in the world, I dare say), chocolate cupcakes, Banana bread,….and on and on I could go.The first season’s strawberries were out, and even though they cost twice the amount they did last year, we had to get some.Plus I had a bottle of Champagne lying around. Can you believe none of us at the party are big on Champagne?DSC_1405So much so that I have a half bottle leftover….which I plan to convert to Champagne vinegar, just by letting it sit for about 6 weeks, in a wide-mouthed jar in a cool, dark place.DSC_1412I am hopeful that as the novelty of ‘first punnets of the season’ wears of, the strawberries will become ‘cheaper’ so we can all eat to our hearts content.
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Diced and macerated, ready for the eating!

My children of course, who have lived the entire year for strawberry season are in heaven. So much so, that they understand ‘making them last’.After a dinner of crepes and strawberries,….
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Dinner tonight: Crepes and Strawberries, with squirts of cream!

…  and fried egg whites, boiled potatoes and strawberries (no funny faces please….this is my picky eater, daughter #2)
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A balanced diet: Eggs, Strawberries and potatoes!

They wanted the same for breakfast. With most of the strawberries reserved for the ‘party’, I offered them a salad of bananas, apples and strawberries which they LOVED.
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Stretching our strawberries

Anyways, enough about the strawberries…and on to the popcorn cake I made for the get-together. I first learnt to make this when my younger sister sent me the link so I could make it for my sister’s baby shower last October. My, oh my – it was a hit and mighty easy to put together.

I decided to make one because I wanted something new for the children, something other than cupcakes. This combination of buttery popcorn, salty pretzels  creamy white chocolate and marshmallow ‘glue’ satisfies the palate with every bite. If you’re missing ‘bitter’, then use giant marshmallows like I did….and burn the melting mixture…..

But….don’t.This is one occasion where bitter isn’t missed.DSC_1365The children LOVED it. And the adults too – making this an all-round party favourite. Not to mention how stunning it looks, set on a cake platter……food for the eyes too.
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Two sets of hands – one small….and one very adult!

So here it is, the recipe for our beloved, party Popcorn cake.

Popcorn cake, adapted from Cookies & Cups

My main changes to this recipe are
  • Popping my own corn
  • Replacing some of the marshmallows with white chocolate.
Both are sweet, but I prefer the sweetness from the white chocolate, which isn’t as sugary as the marshmallows. The white chocolate also lends some creaminess to the marshmallow glue……And though the cake is fantastic, this also makes a GREAT party mix if you don’t want to ‘cake’ it: Buttery, (kettle) sweet or salty corn, broken pretzel sticks, and white chocolate. Boy. Heaven.
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The littlest convert to popcorn cake!

 
*Ingredients
10 cups of popped corn ( I made mine using about 1/2 cup of corn kernels)
1 scant cup M&M’s ( 2 regular sized packets) 1 & 1/2 cups broken (not crushed/ground) pretzel sticks
1 cup white chocolate chips (1/2 cup to make the marshmallow sauce, and 1/2 to toss with the popcorn)
1 cup marshmallows (6 large marshmallows or lots more for mini ones) 1/2 cup unsalted butter, room temperature  (1/4 cup, in small pieces to toss the popcorn in once ready, and the other 1/4 cup for the marshmallow glue)
 
Note Cookies & Cups uses microwave popcorn, more M & M’s, a lot more marshmallows and no white chocolate
 
*Please note that these directions are approximate – I was adjusting it as I went along so  forgive me for not being exact! I will update it as soon as I make it again. Which will be soon….
Method
Prepare a large tube or bundt pan by spraying with cooking spray.Place the popped corn in a large bowl, being careful to remove the un-popped kernels. While hot, add in the 1/4 cup of butter, and a pinch of salt, tossing well to combine.Mix in the M&M’s, broken pretzel sticks and 1/2 cup of white chocolate chips. Set aside for a moment.In a large saucepan, melt the remaining 1/4 cup of butter over low heat, till melted. Then add the (chopped) marshmallows and the remaining 1/2 cup white chocolate chips. Stir until melted and smooth, being careful not to leave the kitchen as the marshmallows could easily burn.Remove from heat, let cool for a few minutes before pouring over your popcorn mix. Too soon, and the heat from the marshmallow glue will cause the popcorn to shrink.Stir all the ingredients together till combined, then fill the pan and press in.Cover with foil and let the popcorn cake set for at least an hour to cool.Gently loosen the outer edges with a table/butter knife when you’re ready to serve.Gently turn your pan over onto your serving platter et voila, your cake is here. Beautiful, and definitely delicious.Cover tightly and store for up to 1 day.  But it shouldn’t last that long, unlike champagne. Ours didn’t. Every grain that was left, was eaten….off the table and off the platter.DSC_1366Don’t you think this is a great idea? Yum!
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  • Norma-Platanos, Mangoes and Me!
    January 12, 2013 at 6:54 PM

    Oh my dear how you are missed. I have been under the weather with a horrid flu and have not been able to catch up to commenting and cooking.

    Up and around today but keeping low…my love to you and your family and hoping for new of David. I am sorry I did not get the chance to send the gift…

    Reply

  • January 10, 2013 at 5:13 AM

    The strawberries are so luscious! I saw some at the grocery today, but they were from South America. They appeared tough, not at all juicy. Must have been a variety grown just for the long trip north. I will wait for spring! What a lovely time to celebrate with friends and family!

    Reply

    • January 12, 2013 at 8:21 AM

      I agree with you. This weeks strawberries are even more so than these…..

      Its weird but wonderful to me that this is strawberry season in what is winter in its true climes. But then I know that this is the coldest time of year in Nigeria, and it replicates the summer temperature climes.

      Reply

  • Lara
    January 9, 2013 at 5:20 AM

    Wonderful Oz. I have to say it is nice to have close neighbors. Between my years in London then Dubai, I haven’t had that experience. It’s there in Jordan though.
    Your cake looks wonderful. I still need to get my head around how you shaped it so nicely? All ingredients sounds great for children.. The little one looks gorgeous. Xxxx

    Reply

    • January 12, 2013 at 8:26 AM

      Dear Lara, I stiffed the popcorn mixture into a lightly greased bundt pan, which has curved bottom and a central hole/vent. And when I removed the cake, I placed it bottoms-up. Good neighbours are wonderful.

      Reply

  • January 9, 2013 at 2:36 AM

    Strawberries, fruit for the gods and children, and me….can’t wait till they hit our markets. I tried growing some last year, but left in the hands of my husband they did not prosper…at the very least I am blaming him whether it was his fault or not.

    The popcorn cake looks like a fun treat. I’m always up for popcorn, I especially like the sweet salty combo.

    Reply

  • January 8, 2013 at 8:12 PM

    I’m SO happy to hear you have such great neighbours, Oz! It makes all the difference to our lives, doesn’t it? :) xx

    Reply

  • January 8, 2013 at 4:42 PM

    That popcorn cake idea is brilliant! I may *ahem* have to borrow that soon. 😉

    Reply

  • January 8, 2013 at 9:55 AM

    Oh, I ADORE strawberries!! I have not really been able to find them here – SO bummed! There is a woman who grows them who usually comes door to door selling them in our compound, but she hasn’t come yet – AAAH!!!!! She has gone to see some of my friends, though, who invested in her new farm, thus she goes to visit them first (I was like, “What!? For first dibs on strawberries I would’ve totally invested!”), and they said that an entire field of hers was destroyed – pests? don’t remember – so she doesn’t have as many. AAAAAHHHHH!!!! There are only a few strawberry farmers here that I know of, so that explains some of the higher prices, too? Anyway – I am hoping that’s not the case and that they appear soon, but I’m a little worried that I have barely seen any. :( Sigh. A shame since my frozen stock is almost finished…..

    But on to popcorn cakes – that looks so good! I have been wanting to amke one of these but had forgotten…. Will have to try that soon! Only I think I will use peanut M&M’s instead of plain….. 😉 :)

    Reply

    • January 12, 2013 at 9:10 AM

      :-). Aah, I wish I could send you some. Prices have gone up by 50% but if you buy the larger box (like we do), its the exact same price as last years and they are SOOOOOO good. Fresh, plump, juicy and 98% of them are whole, sans bruises.

      So, yes, perhaps wise to ‘invest’ a little – business unusual, aye?

      Though I am surprised that they aren’t flooding your markets cause the ones we get twice a week (Tuesdays and Fridays) come from Jos.

      What I am desperate for, which I haven’t had in ages is Farm Fresh yogurt. I am kicking myself for not being smart enough to start making mine!

      Enjoy your peanut M&Ms, wink wink

      Reply

  • January 8, 2013 at 2:08 AM

    This would be a hit at any party. The mix of sweet and salty always is a good combination. Americans eat a lot of popcorn and are always looking for ways to enjoy it. This popcorn cake rocks.

    Strawberries rock too.

    Happy New Year!

    Velva

    P.S. Glad you had the opportunity to enjoy the dried cranberries.

    Reply

    • January 12, 2013 at 9:13 AM

      I too love sweet and salty…and spicy :-). Its the ethos of salted caramel, isn’t it. And the strawberries are just absolutely gorgeous. I don’t want to do anything but eat them. However, in the quantities I get them, its impractical to eat them so fast though my kids are doing their best. Breakfasts, snacks, lunch boxes and everything else see the strawberries out.

      Thanks again for the dried cranberries – they really made our Christmas dinner!

      Reply

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