© David Loftus
spiced sugar & christmas popcorn
What’s mad about this is that, even though all of these spices and flavours are so pungent on their own, they actually taste like tutti frutti sweets when together. You can use this sugar for so many things; from a sweetener for porridge, sprinkled over baked bananas, or to make a gorgeous Chantilly cream. It will keep for a while, so if you’re going to make it, you may as well make a batch and keep it in an airtight container.
Whack the bay leaves, orange and lemon jest and all of your spices into a food processor and give it a good whiz. Once that’s well blended add your sugar and whiz again so you’ve got a lovely spiced sugar. Because there’s quite a bit of moistness in the zest and vanilla pod it’s a good idea to pour the sugar onto a baking tray, spread it out evenly then leave it to dry for a few hours.
Once the sugar is nice and dry, pass it through a sieve to catch any larger pieces of spices. Discard anything left behind in the sieve then put your sieved sugar into an airtight container, where it will keep happily for ages.
Spiced Christmas popcorn
Popcorn only takes a few minutes to make but it smells, sounds and tastes brilliant; it’s a great thing to have going on in your home. If you’re feeling a bit creative you can divide the popcorn between some little sandwich bags, tie them with ribbons then give them out as a bit of a Christmas treat to adults and kids. If the sugar settles on the bottom of the bag just give the bag a shake before tucking in.
Put a few lugs of oil and your butter in a large pan over a high heat. Once the butter has melted, add the popcorn and stir well to coat the kernels. Put the lid on straight away and leave it for a few minutes. It will take a few minutes to get going so be patient. As the popcorn gets going give the pan a shake every 30 seconds or so to make sure the kernels all get popped. Put your spiced sugar in a large bowl and when the popcorn is ready add it to the bowl and quickly toss it and stir it into the sugar so the hot popcorn picks up those lovely spiced flavours.
Serve the popcorn in a big bowl or in little bowls dotted about the house. I can honestly say, hand on heart, that this is one of the nicest popcorns I’ve ever had. It’s delicious and has to be better for you than caramels, toffees or cheap artificial sweets.
Recipe © Jamie Oliver. From Jamie Cooks Christmas.
Makes 1kg of sugar
• 3 fresh bay leaves
finely grated zest of 2 oranges
• finely grated zest of 2 lemons
• 6 whole cloves
• ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
• 10 gratings of whole nutmeg
• 1 vanilla pod, halved lengthways
• 1kg unrefined caster sugar
Makes a large bowl of popcorn
• olive oil
• 2 knobs of butter
• 250g popcorn kernels
• 6 tablespoons spiced sugar