Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Healthy Easter Basket Treat

Any moment now, I expect a package from my mother--her famous peanut butter easter eggs. If they don't come today, I'm going to be really disappointed. Easter baskets have always been a critical part of my life--I remember one year I didn't get one from my mother I was devastated. My argument was that each year until she died, my grandmother (Nana) used to put together an Easter basket for my Aunt Dorry . . . long after Aunt Dorry had her own child and started making Easter baskets for him. I'm embarassed to say that I cried because I didn't get a stuffed bunny. How could my mother think that just because I was a busy lawyer in New York that I wouldn't want a stuffed bunny for Easter? The next Easter, she took me to a small shop in Pennsylvania and had me pick out my own bunny. Last year, I got two bunnies: one that I keep in my office (see below), and another that Sneak appropriated as her companion.

In anticipation of all sorts of Easter sweets this year, I googled "healthy easter basket" and got the idea of making popcorn balls to fill out the rest of the communal basket that I'll put out for friends on Sunday. This recipe turned out really well. I'm already imagining peanut butter ones . . .

Honey-Raisin Popcorn Balls

12 cups air-popped popcorn
3/4 cup butter, cut into chunks
1 cup honey
1 tsp salt
2 tsp vanilla

Preheat oven to 325°. Put popcorn in a large bowl. Line a large baking sheet with waxed paper. In a medium saucepan over medium heat, use a heatproof spatula or wooden spoon to stir together the butter, honey, raisins, and salt until the butter is melted. Increase heat and boil honey mixture gently 1 minute, stirring constantly. Stir in the vanilla. Carefully pour the honey mixture over the popcorn and stir gently to coat. Bake popcorn, stirring every 5 minutes, until deep golden all over, about 25 minutes. Let the popcorn stand for 5 minutes, or just until cool enough to handle. Working quickly with lightly oiled or buttered hands, press small handfuls of the mixture into small balls, occasionally loosening popcorn from bottom of pan with a spatula. If mixture cools too much to be malleable or if the popcorn starts to crack instead of press into ball shapes, return it to the oven for about 45 seconds to soften. Put the popcorn balls on prepared baking sheet and let cool completely. Place in an airtight container at room temperature, or wrap individually, and store for up to 2 weeks.


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