We’re big New Orleans fans and it’s one of our favorite vacation destinations. We love the food, the music and the whole vibe of the place. So, even though our home is in Indiana, we always celebrate Mardi Gras and all things NOLA related. Of course we’ll be baking a king cake but why not also make king cake popcorn?
If you’ve never had the pleasure, a king cake, also known as three kings cake, represents the Epiphany, or Twelfth Night, which is the last day of Christmas and the start of the Epiphany season.
Named for the Biblical magi, or three kings, who visited the baby Jesus, the cake probably originated during Roman festivals. It often includes a small figurine, usually a baby, hidden inside to represent the Christ child and finding it is considered good luck.
In Louisiana, a king cake is associated with Mardi Gras and is served from Epiphany till Carnival. It’s usually a simple ring of yeasted sweet dough, similar to a cinnamon roll. It’s topped with icing and the colored sanding sugars that are associated with the celebration. Purple signifies justice, green represents faith and gold means power.
Do you need to be Christian to enjoy king cake? Certainly not. You only need to love sweets and pastry and we certainly do. But, as you know, we also really love popcorn and if we can turn one of our favorite pastries into a popcorn flavor, we will.
The recipe itself is pretty simple. We popped a big batch of our favorite movie theater kernels and tossed them in butter. That gave us the golden color. It also gave us deliciousness. Then we melted some good white chocolate chips and divided it into two batches. We added green food color to one batch and a mix of red and blue food colors to the other to get purple. Then we just drizzled the buttery popcorn with the tinted white chocolate and dove right in to enjoy it. Adding the baby is optional, of course.
Melt the white chocolate chips in the microwave or in a bowl set over a pot of simmering water. Stir until fully melted.
Divide the melted white chocolate into two separate bowls. Stir a few drops of green food color into one bowl and check the color. Add more food color, one drop at a time, until you have the shade of green that you like.
Repeat the process with the other bowl and the purple food color. If you're using a combination of red and blue to achieve the purple, start with just a couple of drops of each and keep adding slowly until you're happy with the shade. Note that it will probably take more red than blue to get a grape-like purple color.
Add the popped popcorn to a large bowl. Combine the melted butter with the vanilla and ground cinnamon. Pour over the popcorn, sprinkle with the salt and stir to combine. Drizzle on the green and purple tinted white chocolate until you have the look of traditional Mardi Gras colors. Top with sprinkles if using. Serve immediately and store any leftovers in an airtight container on the counter for up to 5 days.
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