sweet miscellany: Monster Munch


Monster Munch

When I was younger, my brother and I would always make this popcorn concoction we called "monster munch" when we were left alone in the house.  Typically it would be on a Saturday night and we would enjoy it under a blanket fort we made in the living room while watching Are You Afraid of the Dark or Nine to Five.  It was basically popcorn with a sticky mixture of melted butter, marshmallows, and brown sugar poured over it.  There wasn't really a recipe for it so we would just mix it together and microwave it until it looked and tasted right.  Ask anyone in my family what the perfect movie-watching snack is and they will most likely say monster munch.

I haven't had the "real" version of monster munch in years because I don't really eat butter or marshmallows anymore.  And, it isn't exactly that healthy.  I figured this past weekend that it had been long enough and decided to figure out a somewhat healthier way to enjoy it.  Yes, there is caramel involved, but it's made with less processed and better for you ingredients.  Plus, the fleur de sel really puts it over the top in terms of creating the perfect sweet and salty balance.  I highly suggest enjoying this under a blanket fort while watching scary movies.  I think it might taste that much better :)  

Monster Munch
caramel adapted from here

for the caramel
3/4 cup full fat coconut milk (from the can)
6 tbsp sucanat
fleur de sel or other sea salt

Heat the coconut milk in a sauce pan/pot over medium heat.  When little bubbles start to form around the edges of the pan, whisk in the sucanat until it is dissolved and the mixture is a light caramel color.  Add in a pinch of fleur de sel.  Allow the mixture to start bubbling, then whisk it vigorously for a few seconds.  Repeat this process every couple of minutes for about 10 to 15 minutes total.  You will know when it is getting close because the bubbles will change in appearance and it will be a lovely caramel color.  You can test the set of the caramel by dropping a bit in a bowl of ice water.  This will cause the caramel to cool quickly so you can test it without burning yourself.  If it's nice and soft, it's ready.  Remove the caramel from the heat, let it cool only for a couple of minutes before using.  Refrigerate any leftovers, re-heating them gently over low when ready to use again.  Makes about a half cup of caramel.

for the popcorn
1/4 cup popcorn kernels (the ones I used are a mix of blue and white corn)
1 tbsp safflower or grapeseed oil

In a heavy-bottom pot with a lid (such as a dutch oven), heat the oil over medium high.  Put 2 or 3 kernels in the pot and put the lid on.  When the kernels pop, you know the oil is ready.  Carefully remove the lid, add all of the kernels and replace the lid.  Remove the pot from the heat for only 30 seconds, making sure to shake it a bit to distribute the oil and kernels.  After 30 seconds, return the pot to the heat and leave it there until you hear all of the kernels have popped (this won't take very long).  If you want, you can leave the lid slightly ajar while the popcorn is popping to allow the steam to escape.  When the popcorn has popped, carefully remove the pot from the heat and pour it into a large bowl.

to make your monster munch:
Pour your desired amount of caramel over the popcorn and sprinkle with a bit of extra fleur de sel or sea salt.  Toss the popcorn to coat it in the caramel then enjoy!  Makes 1 large or 2 small servings.

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