comscore Stovetop popcorn sets stage for treats

Stovetop popcorn sets stage for treats

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    Chocolate turns popcorn into a sweet treat.
    Mummy Cupcakes.

It’s that time of year again, when gaggles of little ghosts, goblins and ghouls expect sweet treats. But this year, consider ditching candy in favor of an easy treat you can cook up yourself. I’m talking about popcorn.

Start from scratch by popping the corn kernels on the stove. Those microwave bags of popcorn from the supermarket? Most of them are filled with additives, including hydrogenated fat, artificial colors and flavors, and way too much salt.

My recipe for stovetop popcorn cooks up in just five minutes start to finish. With the corn popped, you can then go sweet or savory.

Popcorn in the Pan

» 3 tablespoons vegetable or grapeseed oil
» 1/2 cup popcorn kernels

Place oil in large saucepan at least 8 inches across. Add 3 popcorn kernels, cover and cook over medium-high heat until they pop. This lets you know when the pan is hot enough.

Remove pan from heat, add remaining kernels and return pan to burner. Cook popcorn over medium-high heat, covered, with a tiny gap to let steam escape, shaking pan occasionally until popping noises slow down to once every 3 to 4 seconds.

Remove from the heat. Makes 11 to 12 cups.

Nutritional information unavailable.

Spicy Blue Cheese Popcorn

» 4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) unsalted butter
» 2 ounces crumbled blue cheese
» 1 tablespoon hot sauce
» 1 batch popcorn

In small saucepan over medium-low heat, melt butter. Add cheese and hot sauce and stir until cheese is melted.

In large bowl, toss popcorn with cheese mixture. Serves 10.

Approximate nutritional information, per serving: 110 calories, 9 g fat, 3.5 g saturated fat, 15 mg cholesterol, 85 mg sodium, 6 g carbohydrate, 1 g fiber, no sugar, 2 g protein

Marshmallow Popcorn Balls

» 1 batch popcorn
» 6 tablespoons unsalted butter
» 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
» 5 cups miniature marshmallows
» 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

In 9-by-13-inch baking dish, spread out popcorn in even layer.

In medium saucepan over low, combine butter and salt and cook until butter is melted. Increase heat to medium, add marshmallows and cinnamon and cook until melted, stirring constantly.

Pour mixture over popcorn and quickly mix until all the popcorn is well coated. Let mixture cool slightly. Oil hands and form mixture into 12 balls.

Approximate nutritional information, per serving: 180 calories, 10 g fat, 4 g saturated fat, 15 mg cho­les­terol, 60 mg sodium, 23 g carbohydrate, 1 g fiber, 12 g sugar, 1 g protein

Double Chocolate Popcorn Balls

» 1/2 cup sugar
» 1/2 cup light corn syrup
» 4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) unsalted butter
» 2 tablespoons cocoa powder (not Dutch processed)
» 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
» 1 batch popcorn
» 1 cup bittersweet chocolate chips

In 4-quart saucepan over medium-high, combine sugar, corn syrup, butter, cocoa and salt. Bring to boil, stirring constantly. Remove from heat and add popcorn. Stir to coat well.

Cool to lukewarm, then stir in chocolate chips. Oil hands and form mixture into 12 balls.

Approximate nutritional information, per serving: 220 calories, 13 g fat, 6 g saturated fat, 10 mg cholesterol, 50 mg sodium, 30 g carbohydrate, 3 g fiber, 21 g sugar, 2 g protein

Mummy Cupcakes

These adorable little mummy cupcakes don’t take much more time than frosting a bunch of regular cupcakes, but the fun factor is extremely high. If you have kids, grab them and ask them to help.

» 1-1/2 cups water
» 1 cup cocoa powder
» 2 cups sugar
» 2-1/2 cups all-purpose flour
» 1 teaspoon baking powder
» 1 teaspoon baking soda
» 1 teaspoon kosher salt
» 4 large eggs, room temperature
» 3/4 cup vegetable or canola oil
» 1/2 cup sour cream
» 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Marshmallow frosting:
» 1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened
» 1 (7-ounce) jar marshmallow spread (such as Marshmallow Fluff), about 2 cups
» 3 cups powdered sugar
» 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
» 2 to 3 tablespoons milk, half-and-half or heavy cream
» 48 M&M’s or other small, round, colored candies

Heat oven to 350 degrees. Line 24 muffin tins with paper liners, then mist liners with cooking spray.

In a small saucepan over medium-high, bring water to a boil. Whisk in cocoa powder and sugar until smooth, then remove from heat and allow mixture to cool off about 15 minutes.

In the meantime, in medium bowl, combine the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt.

In another bowl, use an electric mixer to beat together eggs, oil, sour cream and vanilla. Add cooled chocolate mixture and beat just to combine. Add flour mixture in 3 batches, beating on low speed just until flour is incorporated.

Divide batter between cupcake liners, filling each one three-quarters full. Bake 20 to 25 minutes, or until toothpick inserted at center comes out clean. Cool in pan on wire rack 10 minutes, then remove cupcakes and finish cooling them in their liners on rack.

While cupcakes are cooling, make frosting. In medium bowl, use an electric mixer to blend butter, marshmallow spread, powdered sugar and vanilla. Add milk, 1 tablespoon at a time, until frosting is creamy but still firm. You might not need all of the milk.

To decorate the cooled cupcakes, place frosting in pastry bag fitted with a basket weave decorating tip. Pipe long bands of frosting across the cupcakes, leaving a space in the middle to add eyes. (For a video demonstrating this, go to

Place 2 candies in the open space for eyes, then use tiny piping tip to add dot of frosting in the middle of each candy for the pupils. Or use a toothpick and dab a bit of frosting in the middle of each candy. Makes 2 dozen cupcakes.

Approximate nutritional information, per cupcake: 310 calories, 13 g fat, 4 g saturated fat, 50 mg cholesterol, 180 mg sodium, 47 g carbohydrate, 1 g fiber, 32 g sugar, 3 g protein

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