My poor, battered Patriots made it to the AFC Championship game for the fifth straight year, only to lose it all in a brutal game filled with near-misses, what ifs, and almosts… But I’m doing my best not to dwell on that (ha. ha. yeah right.)
Now, everyone knows watching a football game the fun way is all about the three f‘s: family, friends, and the food. Last Saturday for the Divisional Championship game between the Patriots and the Chiefs (a game with a decidedly happier outcome, mind you) I was covered on the first two counts: I had my phone in hand to share excited text updates with my parents back home, and I recruited Sam (one of the world’s top-five humans, it should be reiterated, for her patience and enthusiasm regarding this weird, long game she was not raised to love). The food, however, required some serious thought.
There are the classics – wings, nachos, pizza – but I wanted something rather light that I could anxiously munch on throughout the game without feeling like I needed to lie down with a hot water bottle by night’s end. I could feel the craving rising, supplying adjectives without a recipe. Salty, sweet, crunchy, chewy, not too heavy….
And then inspiration struck. We’d have popcorn, of course, but not just any popcorn. Popcorn drizzled with white and dark chocolate, with a dash of almond extract and a generous heaping of tart dried cranberries. Oh, it would be heaven. A veritable cornucopia of all of my favorite flavors and textures, and oh so easy to make.
It was, of course, delicious to snack on throughout the game and the Patriots won 27-20, so it felt like a good omen. I decided to make it again for Sunday’s ultimately disastrous match-up, and I must say it helped soothe some of the pain. This may have been due to the fact that this second time around I soaked my cranberries in rum the night before, which added an incredible depth and je ne sais quoi to this light, fluffy snack.
Popcorn (1 bag)
Semi-Sweet chocolate chips
1/4 tsp almond extract OR 1/4 cup rum (depending upon which recipe you use)
White chocolate chips
1/2 cup dried cranberries or raisins
Should you decide to make your cranberries rum-soaked, combine the cranberries and rum in an airtight container and let sit over night (or at least for several hours).
Pop your popcorn. Spread it over a non-stick baking sheet into a somewhat even layer.
Put the semi-sweet chocolate chips into a bowl. Add the almond extract to the chocolate chips (if opting not to use the rum with the cranberries) and microwave for about one minute until melted. Add the cranberries and stir to coat. Do your best to drizzle evenly over the popcorn, but don’t worry too much about that yet.
Put the white chocolate chips in a bowl. Microwave about a minute or until melted, and then drizzle evenly over the popcorn.
Do your best to stir the popcorn and chocolates together, and then spread back into an even layer.
Sprinkle a few more dried cranberries over top for a pop of color.
Slide the baking sheet into the fridge and allow to chill completely. For best results, give it at least an hour.
Serve, cheer, and enjoy! Of course, you could make this at any time, football game or no (I know I will, especially now that the Pats’ season is over 😰). But if you have a super bowl party to attend and want to bring something full of flavors that will surprise and delight, give this a try!
Go Panthers! (I can just never root for the team that beat my team. Sorry not sorry, Manning.)