You know what one of the hardest parts about writing a cook book is? Not sharing every new amazing recipe we come up with here on the blog. I couldn’t resist with this one, and technically I’m not giving away all of the surprises because this is actually just a little variation of one of our new Valentine recipes in our next book (did we mention it’s themed by season?) One of my favorite flavor combinations is cinnamon and chocolate. I pretty much have had daily cravings for the chocolate covered cinnamon bears from the BYU book store every day for the past 8 years. No joke. They are the BEST. So I set out to make a munchable-sharable-irresistible treat with those same flavors.
I’m a huge fan of red hots. I personally think they’re totally unappreciated. Usually people only buy them for specific recipes or craft projects, but I buy them to eat. Seriously folks; red hots are awesome. So take your candies and put them in a ziplock bag. Whack them with a meal mallet, or a hammer, or something heavy to smash them up.
You could pop them in a food processor too, but just be careful not to pulverize them. You don’t want them ground, you want them roughly chopped, like this:
Melt a pound of almond bark in a mixing bowl and then add the red hots.
Now, we use almond bark a lot and every time we do we get a million questions so let me just answer them right now.
1. You generally find it in the baking aisle near the chocolate chips. Often on the very top or very bottom shelf. During holidays it’s often on the endcaps. If you can’t find it, ask someone who works there. It’s sold in a rectangular block.
2. Almond bark does not involve nuts. So you really don’t need to tell me you’re allergic. It has no nuts and no nut products. It’s just a vanilla flavored candy, much like white chocolate.
3. But it also doesn’t involve chocolate, so you can be allergic to that too. It’s basically like fake white chocolate.
4. You are welcome to experiment with actual white chocolate instead (someone always asks) but I cannot guarantee anything; it gets tricky. Almond bark is incredibly easy to work with, it coats well, takes mix-ins well, and it tastes yummy, so that’s why we use it. Cook at your own risk.
Okie-dokie, let’s move on!
After the red hots go in, break up the oreos. You can lightly crush them in the ziplock bag, or a quick pulse in the food processor, but I prefer to just break them up by hand because you want to leave some chunks in there. They’ll break up more when you stir it up.
Give everything a stir
until it’s incorporated.
Then add in a little cinnamon oil. You can use extract, but be aware that like in our Peppermint Bark Popcorn, it can cause the mixture to seize. It’s actually not a huge problem, it just looks scary. If it turns clumpy just pour it on the popcorn real fast and mix it all up. Cinnamon oil on the other hand will stay nice and smooth and mix right in so if you can, use it over extract. You can find oils at kitchen supply stores, or at craft stores near the candy making supplies, or certainly online. Here in Boise, I buy it at my Albertson’s. All that being said, you can leave out the oil and extract entirely. I just love cinnamon so I like the extra pop of flavor, but I’m sure this would still be yummy without it, and maybe some of you would like it more mild anyway!
Once the mixture is poured on the popcorn and stirred well to coat it all, spread out the popcorn on a big cookie sheet that’s been lined with foil, parchment, or a silicone baking mat. Melt your chocolate- and we’re just using a little bit here. I didn’t want the chocolate to overwhelm the flavors, just compliment it. I usually put my chips in a ziplock bag and melt them in the microwave. Then just cut off the corner and squeeze the chocolate on.
After that, give everything a light sprinkle of kosher or sea salt. It balances out the flavor really well.
Then you’ll want to let the chocolate harden completely. I usually pop the pan in the fridge, or outside on a cold day to help it along.
When it’s all hardened, break it up into pieces and you’re good to go.
It’s SO yummy and different and perfectly Valentine-y. You get the sweet almond bark and the crunch from the red hots and the cookies just crumble in your mouth. I dare you not to eat it all.
Cinnamon Cookie Crunch Popcorn
recipe by ourbestbites.com
About 12 cups popped popcorn: natural, or lightly salted works best, avoid butter flavored
1 pound almond bark
1/2 cup red hot candies
10 Oreo cookies
optional: 1/4-1/2 teaspoon cinnamon flavored oil (see note in post about using extract)
2 tablespoons semisweet or dark chocolate chips
kosher or sea salt
Place red hots in a heavy duty ziplock bag and smash with a meat mallet or hammer to crush. Alternately you could pulse them in a food processor until they are just roughly chopped. Break up cookies into rough chunks, either by hand, in a ziplock bag, or in the food processor. Do not crush into crumbs.
In a medium sized microwave safe bowl, melt almond bark according to package instructions until smooth. Gently stir in red hots and chocolate cookies and then add cinnamon oil to taste.
Pour mixture over popcorn and stir well to coat. Pour popcorn mixture onto a baking sheet lined with foil, parchment or a silicone mat and set aside. Melt chocolate chips and drizzle over popcorn mixture. An easy way to do it is to place the chips in a ziplock bag and heat in 20 second intervals, squishing in between, until melted. Cut the corner off the bag and squeeze chocolate out. Sprinkle kosher or sea salt lightly over mixture to taste. Let popcorn mixture harden, place in fridge to speed it up. When completely dry, break into chunks and just try to stop yourself from eating it all in one sitting.
Annnnd, here’s a little preview of what’s comin’ tomorrow. I made a whole set of printables because this is perfect for giving! Valentine Tin Can Treats, cellophane bag toppers and mini labels. Come back tomorrow for the download!