Giada De Laurentiis
- Vegetable cooking spray
- 3 tablespoons vegetable oil
- 1/3 cup popcorn kernels
- 3 tablespoons butter
- 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- 6 cups (12-ounces) mini marshmallows
- 6 fun-size caramel peanut chocolate bars (such as Snickers), cut into 1/4-inch pieces
- 3 (3-inch) chocolate chip cookies, crumbled
- 1/3 cup chopped salted almonds,
- 1/2 cup orange and black chocolate candies (such as M and Ms)
- Spray the inside of a large mixing bowl with vegetable cooking spray, and lightly spray a baking sheet. Set aside.
- In a 3 quart or larger, heavy-bottomed pan, heat the oil and popcorn over medium-high heat. Cover the pan and shake gently. Cook until all the kernels have popped, about 3 minutes. Place the popcorn in the prepared bowl.
- In a medium saucepan, heat the butter over low heat. Add the vanilla extract and marshmallows. Stir constantly until the marshmallows have melted and the mixture is smooth, about 5 minutes. Pour the melted marshmallow mixture over the popcorn. Using a spatula, sprayed with cooking spray, stir until the popcorn is coated. Spread the mixture over the prepared baking sheet. Sprinkle with the chocolate bar pieces, cookies, almonds and chocolate candies. Using a spatula, gently press the toppings into the popcorn. Allow the mixture to dry for 1 hour.
- Break into 2-inch pieces and store airtight in a plastic container.
- Serving Suggestion: Place in small plastic bags and seal with colored ribbon.
An elegant twist...
Rice Puddings with Caramel Gala Apples
- 3 cups water
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 cup arborio rice or medium-grain white rice
- 4 cups whole milk
- 1/3 cup sugar
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- 2 medium Gala or Fuji apples (13 to 14 ounces total)
- 1/4 cup sugar
- 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
- 1 tablespoon unsalted butter, room temperature
- 1/2 cup apple cider
- Pinch of salt
- 1/2 cup heavy whipping cream
- Whipped cream (for topping; optional)
- Bring 3 cups water and 1/4 teaspoon salt to boil in heavy large saucepan. Add rice and boil 10 minutes. Drain rice; discard cooking water. Rinse saucepan. Combine milk and sugar in same saucepan; bring to boil over medium-high heat, stirring until sugar dissolves. Add rice; reduce heat to medium and simmer until rice is very tender, most of milk is absorbed, and pudding is thickened but still creamy and reduced to scant 3 cups, stirring occasionally, about 35 minutes. Remove from heat. Stir in vanilla extract. Transfer rice pudding to medium bowl. Press plastic wrap onto surface of pudding; let pudding cool to room temperature. Refrigerate until cold. DO AHEAD: Can be made 2 days ahead. Keep refrigerated.
- Peel apples; quarter through stem end and remove core. Cut each apple quarter into 4 slices, then cut slices crosswise into thirds. Combine sugar and lemon juice in medium nonstick skillet. Stir over medium-high heat until sugar dissolves and syrup is medium amber color, occasionally swirling skillet, 3 to 4 minutes. Remove from heat; add butter to skillet and swirl until melted (mixture may bubble vigorously). Return skillet to medium heat; add cider and pinch of salt and bring to boil. Add apples and simmer until tender, stirring often, about 6 minutes. Add 1/2 cup whipping cream and boil until sauce thickens slightly, about 2 minutes. Transfer apples with caramel sauce to heatproof bowl. Cool caramel apples until lukewarm or room temperature. DO AHEAD: Caramel apples can be made 1 day ahead. Cover and refrigerate. Stir over medium heat until just warm before using.
- Divide half of caramel apples among 6 Martini glasses or lowball glasses. Top each with rice pudding, dividing equally. Top with remaining caramel apples, dividing equally. Garnish each with dollop of whipped cream, if desired, and serve.
Controversial candy or bodacious brownie?
"Candy Corn" Pumpkin Blondies
For the blondies:
- 1 cup (2 sticks) cold unsalted butter, plus more for the pan
- One 15-ounce can pure pumpkin
- 1/2 cup pure maple syrup
- 2 teaspoons pumpkin-pie spice
- 2 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1 1/2 cups packed light-brown sugar
- 2 large eggs
- 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
- One (8-ounce) package cream cheese, softened
- 1/4 cup confectioners' sugar
- 1/4 cup pure maple syrup
- 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
- 1/8 teaspoon salt
- Orange and yellow food coloring (preferably gel paste) for decorating
Make the blondies:
- Preheat oven to 350°F. Lightly butter a 9- by 13-inch baking pan, line with parchment paper, and butter again.
- In a medium saucepan, cook the pumpkin over medium heat, stirring frequently, until reduced to 1 cup, about 10 minutes. Add the maple syrup and cook, stirring, for 3 minutes. Remove from the heat and stir in the pumpkin pie spice and butter until the butter melts. Transfer mixture to a large bowl. Let stand until room temperature, about 10 minutes.
- Meanwhile, in a medium bowl, whisk the flour, baking powder, and salt. Stir the brown sugar into the pumpkin mixture, then stir in the eggs and vanilla until incorporated. Add the flour mixture and stir until smooth. Spread evenly in the prepared pan.
- Bake until a tester inserted in the center comes out clean, about 30 minutes. Cool completely in the pan on a wire rack.
- Place a large cutting board on top of the pan of blondies. Invert the pan and cutting board together, then lift off the pan and peel off the parchment paper. Cut the blondies into 3 even strips lengthwise, then cut each strip into 10 triangles with approximately 2-inch bases (you will have 1 smaller triangle on each end). Transfer the triangles to a large serving platter, flat bottom sides up.
- In a large bowl, beat the cream cheese with an electric mixer on medium-high speed until smooth and fluffy. Add the confectioners' sugar, maple syrup, lemon juice, and salt. Beat on low speed until well-mixed, then raise the speed to medium-high and beat until smooth, scraping down the sides of the bowl occasionally.
- Transfer half of the icing to another large bowl and tint with orange. Transfer two thirds of the remaining to another bowl and tint yellow. Divide the orange, yellow, and white icings among 3 piping bags or resealable plastic bags. Snip small holes in the corner of each. Pipe the icings on the blondies in stripes to resemble candy corn: a thin strip of yellow along the wide end, a thick strip of orange in the center, and a small white tip. Let stand until set.
Happy (Halloween) baking!