Monday, August 27, 2012

Week 2 : Toffee-Almond Popcorn Balls

Are you ready to make this savory, semi-healthy snack?

Well, the girls of our Life Skills were definitely ready this afternoon. They tackled this toffee task fearlessly!! Now you can too... if you dare.

Warning: This project has the potential of becoming overwhelmingly messy, so layer those countertops with the necessary protection (tarps, maybe?).

As my students would say, the first thing you do in the kitchen is.... 
Read the directions. They are wonderful listeners (I explained that reading the directions is vital, as the creators of those directions spent countless hours trying to come up with the perfect recipe and instructions).

Obviously, the "other"first thing you do in the kitchen is...
Wash your hands. Whew! One of my students got this one correct. :)


Let's get cooking...

One could easily skip this next tasty step, but it's one of the few things that sets this snack apart as "healthy". We popped our own popcorn, thanks to Pop-Secret Corn Kernels and Extra Virgin Coconut Oil.

Coconut Oil, though a couple of the girls showed a bit of distaste towards it in the beginning, is super healthy for you. In fact, it's one of the healthiest oils you can use when cooking. Unlike all of the unnecessary additives microwavable popcorn includes, the popcorn kernels only have one ingredient: Premium Jumbo Popping Corn. Compare those nutrition labels! Plus, it's much more fun to make. :)

P.S.: You can't taste the coconut oil in these popcorn balls when they're finished. 

Step 1: Scoop a teaspoon of coconut oil into a heavy 3 quart or larger pan with a lid. 

Step 2: Place a few kernels in the oil, cover pan and turn heat to medium high. When you hear that first kernel pop, that's your cue to add the remaining popcorn. (We used 2/3 cup of kernels.)

Step 3: Shake pan gently over the heat with lid slightly ajar to allow steam to escape.

Step 4: When popping slows to 2-3 seconds apart, remove pan from heat and carefully pour into a separate large bowl. Sprinkle it with a dash of salt, if you'd like.

Ok. Now that step is out of the way. Reward yourself for your hard work by sneaking in a few bites of popcorn. 

For the Toffee-Almond Popcorn Balls, you will need the following ingredients stacked along your counter for easy access:
  • 2 Tbl unsalted butter, plus more for shaping (yes, we'll be getting our hands buttered up)
  • 1 bag (10 oz.) mini marshmallows
  • 16 cups popped popcorn (from 2/3 cup kernels)
  • 1/2 cup toffee pieces
  • 1/2 cup chopped almonds
  • 1/2 cup mini chocolate chips
I broke the girls up into teams of 2 or 3, as each team was assigned a separate task. I have arranged the teams in order of the steps we made the recipe:

Team 1 Butterers: In a large pot (or it can be the same one you used to pop your kernels), melt butter over medium heat. 

Team 2 Mini Mallows: Add the mini marshmallows and cook, stirring, until melted. This should take about 5 to 6 minutes.

Team 3 The Almondeers: Pound the slivered almonds to make them "chopped almonds", measure out 3/4 cup and mix them into the marshmallow mix.

Team 4 The Toffee Gals: Measure out 3/4 cup of the toffee chips and mix them into the marshmallow-almond mix.

Team 5 The Chocolate Chips: Measure out 3/4 cup of the chocolate chips and mix the tasty treats into the marshmallow-toffee-almond mix.

Team 2 continues to stir the marshmallow mix.

In the meantime, we spread out three pieces of parchment paper along the countertops. Each girl got about 1/2 cup of popcorn placed on their corner of parchment. By this time, the marshmallow mix was ready.

The girls stood in line as I smeared a sliver of butter on each of their hands. {Messy, messy!!} This will help the shaping process.

I placed a spoonful of the yummy mix on top of each girl's bundle of popcorn and they began to form the popcorn into the shape of a perfect 4-inch ball. 

Before I knew it, they were chowing down!!

According to the original recipe, you are actually supposed to fold the popcorn into the mix so it looks a little something like this...

But we didn't do that because (1) it would be way too hot for the girls to form into balls and (2) it was a lot more fun and messy to do it the way we did in class. You may choose to fold in the ingredients if you're trying this on your own though. Place the perfectly rounded popcorn balls onto the parchment paper to cool. 

Here's the end result:


A huge thank you to the wonderful folks at Everyday Food for this recipe. :)
Makes 16 
Total Time: 30 min + cooling
per popcorn ball: 168 cal; 6 g fat (3 g sat fat); 3 g protein; 28 g carb; 2 g fiber

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