It feels a bit like self sabotage posting this on the eve of Lent, during which I have chosen (not for religious reasons, but for solidarity) to give up sugar, amongst other things, in the pursuit of optimum gut health.
The human microbiome is getting a lot of coverage of late, and being a woman of a certain age – recently diagnosed with arthritis and still struggling to lose my baby fat, 12 years after the event – all the chatter has caught my attention. I will be sharing more thoughts/plans/recipes in this regard over coming weeks, but for now – bring on the sweet treats!
I first shared a recipe for a peanut popcorn bar on here many moons ago. This recipe differs in two regards: it uses coconut oil instead of butter and so it is vegan; it has salted, roasted peanuts AND peanut butter in the ingredients – yum!
While this is great cut into squares or bars, I have been favouring a smashed up bag of the stuff, probably because it is harder to measure how much is being consumed when it is served like this…..!
This recipe is both vegan and gluten free.
Salted Peanut Butter & Dark Chocolate Popcorn Bars
100g unpeopled popcorn kernels
1 tablespoon coconut oil
100g salted peanuts
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
40g coconut oil
50g light muscovado sugar
50g golden syrup
100-200g dark chocolate (depending on your taste)
150g whole peanut butter (smooth or crunchy, depending on your taste)
- Lightly grease a 20cm square tin with coconut oil.
- Put the tablespoon of coconut oil and 5 popcorn kernels in a heavy based saucepan with a tight fitting lid and place over a medium high heat, with the lid on.
- Count the pops, and once you have heard all 5 kernels pop, remove the pan from the heat, add the rest of the kernels and shake vigorously for 30 seconds. This will bring all the kernels in the pan up to popping temperature.
- Return the pan to the heat, shaking gently, and let the popcorn do its thing. Once the popping subsides, remove from the heat immediately and pour into a large bowl to cool.
- Place the peanuts and cinnamon into a bowl and bash with the smooth end of a rolling pin. Alternatively put them in a plastic bag and bash them, or use a pestle and mortar. You don’t want to pulverise them, just lightly break them and mix in the cinnamon. Add them to the popcorn and mix well together.
- Meanwhile melt the coconut oil, sugar and syrup in a pan, bringing it to a steady simmer and letting it boil gently for 2-3 minutes.
- Remove the boiling sugars from the heat – be careful, they will be extremely hot! – and pour over the popcorn. You will need to work quickly using a wooden spoon to turn and coat the popcorn in the sugar syrup.
- Pour the popcorn mixture into the oiled tin and press down hard with the palms of your hands, the sugar should have cooled by this point, but still go with care.
- Push the popcorn down into the pan, it may feel like there is too much at first but as you press the popcorn down it will start to fit.
- Use a spoon to put dollops of the peanut butter onto the popcorn, and spread it roughly over the whole tray full. It will not cover it all.
- Break the chocolate up into a heatproof bowl, place the bowl over a saucepan of water and pop over a medium heat. When the water comes to the boil, remove from the heat and gently stir the chocolate pushing the unmelted bits into the hot melted bits, until it is all melted
- Pour the chocolate all over the peanut butter, mixing the two together as you go.
- Allow to cool, turn out onto a board and cut into bars or squares.