Mexican Chocolate Popcorn Balls

Food Network has great snack recipes that are easily adaptable to be gluten free/dairy free! The other day, I came across some great popcorn recipes and I thought HEY! I’ll do a little popcorn series! It first started with the Peanut Maple Popcorn. Today – Mexican Chocolate Popcorn Balls! Movie night snacks will never be the same!

Mexican Chocolate Popcorn Balls

Adapted from Food Network.com

Making these will be sticky but worth it! The mix of chocolate and spices is great!

Ingredients

  • 1/4 cup light corn syrup
  • 2 tablespoons vegan butter (Earth Balance)
  • 1 cupconfectioners’ sugar
  • 2 cups mini marshmallows
  • 2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder (Hershey’s is great – you can use Toll House as well but I like Hershey’s cocoa powder way better)
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1 tablespoon water
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • Pinch of salt.
  • 12 cups popcorn – popped (I suggest using a natural or light butter popcorn or even Kettle corn (my personal favorite) )
  • Cinnamon Sugar for rolling
  1. Bring corn syrup, butter, sugar, 1 cup mini marshmallows, cocoa powder, cinnamon, nutmeg and cayenne pepper, and water to a boil in a large pot over medium heat, stirring.
  2. Add vanilla and a pinch of salt.
  3. Remove from the heat; using a rubber spatula, stir in popcorn and 1 more cup of mini marshmallows.
  4. Now for the fun and sticky part – yes it will be sticky! Butter your hands, and shape mixture into balls.
  5. Roll formed balls in cinnamon sugar.

Who said popcorn balls were boring!?! ENJOY!

Hummingbird Cake

Hummingbird Cake. A very traditional Southern cake – you can’t go wrong with good ol’ down home southern desserts! Did you know that the Humming Bird cake didn’t originate in the South?

Recent evidence suggests this confection descended from Jamaican roots. The hummingbird (aka Dr. Bird) is one of the national symbols.”When it comes to cake, the Dr. Bird or Hummingbird Cake recipe has been one of the most popular through the years. Originally the recipe came to me during the late `60`s, as I recall, from the Jamaican airlines…Ruth Threat of Matthews even sent a picture of a Dr. Bird, a national symbol of Jamaica “
—”HUMMINGBIRD CAKE FROM JAMAICA REMAINS POPULAR,” Helen Moore, Charlotte Observer, November 23, 1986. Hmmm we learn something new everyday don’t we!

I first had my taste of a hummingbird cake in the form of a cupcake from The Cupcake Truck when it had it’s very first visit to Quinnipiac University for a fundraiser. It was delicious! Usually, I am not a huge fan of nuts in my cakes but the combination of flavors just couldn’t be beat! Traditionally it is paired with Cream Cheese frosting but The Cupcake Truck allowed me to have it with Vanilla Buttercream because I’m not a huge cream cheese fan. I have found a great, easy Hummingbird cake recipe that is sure to be delicious!!

Hummingbird Cake

Don’t want to make a huge cake? No problem! Just pour the batter into to cupcake tins lined with your favorite cupcake liners!

Ingredients

For the Cake:

  • 3 cups gluten free flour (Better Batter or your favorite gluten free flour blend)
  • 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 cup packed light brown sugar
  • 3 large eggs, room temperature
  • 1 cup vegetable oil
  • 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • 1 cup fresh pineapple, crushed
  • 2 cups roasted banana, mashed (approximately 4 large or 6 medium-small bananas with peel left on)
  • 1 cup chopped pecans
  • Parchment paper to line bottom of the cake pan
  • 3 – 9 inch round baking pans

For the Cream Cheese Frosting: (NOTE: This frosting is NOT dairy free. You can choose to use this frosting or you can use a the frosting I made for my Coconut Snowball cake – the frosting recipe is on the bottom)

  • 1 ½ sticks unsalted butter, chilled
  • 3-8 ounce packages of cream cheese, chilled
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1 ½ cups powdered sugar, sifted
  • 1 ½ cups finely chopped pecans
  1. Preheat your oven to 350º F.
  2. First roast your bananas. Place bananas on a cookie sheet with peels left on.  Bake in the oven for 12 minutes until the skins are black (the bananas may leak- don’t worry! It’s OK!).  Remove and let cool because they will be HOT! Peel bananas, place in a small mixing bowl and mash.  Set aside.  Leave the oven heated to 350ºF.
  3. Butter (use Earth Balance Vegan Butter) and flour 3 9 inch round baking pans.  Trace the bottom of the pan (for all three pans) onto parchment paper, cut out circle and place in the bottom of each pan.
  4. In a sifter over a large mixing bowl combine the gluten free flour, cinnamon, baking soda and salt.  Sift into the bowl. Set aside.
  5. In a second large mixing bowl combine the granulated and brown sugar; stir to combine.  Add the eggs and stir briskly by hand to combine all ingredients into a smooth mixture.
  6. Whisk the oil and vanilla into the sugar and egg mixture until combined and smooth.
  7. Add the flour mixture all at once and hand stir (do not beat) to combine the mixture fully.
  8. To crush the pineapple, place 1 cup of finely diced fresh pineapple in a medium mixing bowl and using a potato masher, (or if you don’t have a potato masher (because I do not – take your time and use a fork or a whisk (I’m a big improvisor when it comes to baking tools) ) crush the pineapple.
  9. Add the fruit and juice to the batter.  Also add the mashed banana and the pecans.  Stir just until combined. Be careful not to over stir.
  10. Divide the batter evenly between the three pans.  Tap the pans on the countertop to release any air bubbles and place in the 350º F oven for 25-30 minutes until cake bounces back to the touch and a toothpick inserted in the cake comes out clean.
  11. Allow to cool in pans on racks for 5 minutes then turn out onto cooling racks to fully cool before frosting.

Time to whip up some frosting!!

  1. Cut sticks of chilled butter into 1 inch pieces and place in the bowl of a standing mixer (can use a hand held mixer if needed).  Beat on low speed, gradually increasing speed to medium until the butter is still cool but has softened together (about 3 minutes).
  2. Cut the cream cheese into 1 inch strips and add to the butter.  Mix at medium speed until fully combined, and smooth.
  3. Add the pure vanilla extract and slowly add the sifted powdered sugar.  Beat until well blended, increasing speed to beat on medium-high for 3 minutes or until the frosting becomes light and fluffy.
  4. Fold in pecans by hand.

Finally time to build your cake!

  1. Place the first layer of cake upside down (the bottom of the cake will be frosted) on the serving plate. Cover with 2/3 cup of frosting.  This will be a thin covering.
  2. Place the second layer of cake right side up (flat cake bottom onto the frosting) and frost the top of this layer with 2/3 cup again or a little bit more.
  3. Place the last cake layer with cake right side up and use the remaining frosting to cover top of cake and the sides.
  4. Allow cake to stand at room temperature 30 minutes before serving and store any uneaten cake in the refrigerator.
Cake best when made the day prior to serving!
There you go!! This is a GREAT cake (or lots of cupcakes) for a outdoor party! Pair with a great drink and good friends!!
ENJOY!!
Kwegyirba Croffie is a freelance Associate Producer at News 12 Connecticut and a Special Events/Event Planning and Social Media Intern at College Lifestyles (TM). She is a Quinnipiac University alumni and a sister of Alpha Delta Pi. She enjoy cupcakes,Broadway musicals, Forever 21 ,giraffes, peacock feathers, orchids, lillies and anything Disney.