What’s Up, Hungry People
Easter might just be the undisputed champion when it comes to the variety of treats available. I mean, think about it: there’s a smorgasbord of chocolates and candies that give Valentine’s Day and Halloween a run for their money. But Easter doesn’t stop there; it throws in an entire spectrum of feast options, from succulent roast lamb to decadent carrot cake. With Easter on the horizon, I decided to bridge the gap between candies and “cooking” with a concoction I like to call easter bunny bait popcorn.
This delightful mix is adorned with mini peanut butter eggs and a rainbow of candy melts. Let me tell you, my favorite spot to stash this easter egg caramel corn turned out to be right in my snack hole.
Now, this concoction can be whipped up using salt-free, pre-bagged popcorn straight out of your microwave. But, if you’re part of the cool kids club and happen to own a Whirlypop kettle corn maker (affiliate link), you’re in for a treat. You can elevate this recipe from great to legendary. Sure, both methods churn out a delicious snack, but once you taste the stove-top version, microwave popcorn will become a distant memory.
Navigating the quantity of stove-top popcorn can be a bit like a wild guess. According to the kernel box, 1/4 cup equals one serving. So, naturally, I went all in with a cup, planning to share with friends and colleagues.
This is about when I learned that popcorn, like pasta, multiplies magically in the pot so you always end up with roughly ten times more than what you intended.
Suddenly, I was the proud owner of roughly SIXTEEN CUPS of POPPED popcorn. Just a heads-up, that’s a mountain of popcorn. Below is a snapshot of just one of the two trays I ended up with.
Whether you’re team fresh or team microwave for your popcorn, keeping it toasty in the oven at a cozy 200°F is a pro move. This keeps it perfect for the next step.
For the perfect caramel corn, it’s important to get the sugar right between a “soft ball” and “hard ball” at about 250°F – if the sugar is cooler, it makes the popcorn soggy after a few days. Any harder and you might as well be making jawbreakers.
While waiting for the sugar to reach the ideal temperature, scatter the peanut butter eggs through the warmed popcorn. Melt the candy melts and drizzle them on top, turning the popcorn as you go to make sure every piece gets at least close to some colored melted candy.
You’ve got options for the next part: keep it on the baking sheets, spread it out on a parchment-lined table, or toss it in large mixing bowls. Whatever you choose, aim for a single layer to avoid any popcorn pile-ups.
Quickly, and carefully, drizzle the melted sugar over the popcorn and candies. Don’t put too much in one place and try to keep the thickness consistent so most of the popcorn gets a bit of sugar on it.
LET IT COOL. You want the sugar to be cool enough that it’s not piping hot – it IS MELTED LAVA SUGAR after all – but also not too long that it cools and starts to harden before you can sufficiently mix in the eggs and sprinkles. I coated my hands with coconut oil after letting the sugar cool for about ten minutes. The coconut oil works to protect your hands from the heat, so be sure to oil up frequently. If it’s still too hot for you to handle, use a wooden spoon instead of your hands, but take care to be gentle and not crumble the popcorn as you work!
The final result is a colorful, candy covered, caramel coated popcorn – perfect for any Easter Bunny to deliver on Easter Sunday!
Easter Bunny Bait Popcorn
- Preheat the oven to 200°F. In a large popcorn kettle pot over medium-high heat, add a layer of oil and a single layer of popcorn kernels. Heat, undisturbed, until popping begins. Use the crank to stir the popcorn for 3-5 minutes, until all of the kernels have popped. Alternatively, if using microwave popcorn, follow the instructions on the bag. Spread the popcorn onto baking sheets lined with parchment paper or silicone mats and keep warm in the oven.
- Prepare the sugar by combining sugar, corn syrup, and water in a medium saucepan. Stir until the sugar is mostly dissolved. Use a candy thermometer to bring the mixture to 250°F (should read between a "soft" and "hard" ball stage). Stir only occasionally, especially if the sugar starts to caramelize and brown.
- Remove the popcorn from the oven. You can either keep the popcorn on the baking sheets or transfer it to another large, parchment paper-lined, heat-resistant surface. Spread the mini peanut butter eggs and Easter sprinkles across the popcorn. Melt the candy melts according to package instructions and drizzle your desired colors over the popcorn.
- Quickly and carefully pour the melted sugar over the popcorn in an even stream, drizzling back and forth so that most of the exposed popcorn is touched with the melted sugar. Let cool for several minutes—long enough that the sugar is cool enough to handle but still hot enough to stick to other pieces.
- Cover your hands with coconut oil or use a large wooden spoon or spatula covered in coconut oil. Working from the bottom, fold the popcorn over so the unexposed layer is on top. Be careful—the melted sugar is very hot. Do not directly touch the sugar with your hands. Repeat as necessary. Gently split and divide any clumps of popcorn as you work to distribute the candy melts and melted sugar evenly.
- Allow the popcorn to cool in a single layer for about an hour. Hide additional mini peanut butter eggs and other Easter candies throughout the cooled popcorn. Split the popcorn into individual servings for sharing. Happy Easter!