Gingerbread Popcorn

I have a funny story for you.  In general it’s pretty hard to ruffle my feathers, a trait Mike says I get from my dad.  But there are situations that take their toll on my patience…like when the girl who works at the sub shop at my favorite local grocery store repeatedly hits on my husband.  In front of me. 

Let me explain…

My local grocery store makes the best subs ever.  They call them “old-fashioned” and I can’t for the life of me figure out what makes them old-fashioned, but they are fantastic.  And I am a sucker for a good turkey and swiss cheese sub, especially when it’s offered on an “everything” roll (yup, that’s like an everything bagel). 

A couple years ago this girl started working there who apparently had a “thing” for Mike.  Long story short, she was always sweet and flirty with him and curt/cold with me.  This continued on for some time, until one night when she reached the pinnacle of her brazenness…

Mike and I were there for dinner, he was waiting in line for a sub and I was over looking at the soups available that day.  After we left the store, he told me that she had had the nerve to ask him out.  Mike told her that he was married – and I was his wife!  You won’t believe what she said… I thought she was your cousin.  Oh wow.  Mike and I aren’t into public displays of affection, but he usually walks around the store with his arm around my waist or my shoulders, not to mention the fact that we both wear wedding rings.  Plus we don’t look a thing alike (Mike has olive skin and dark hair and I have fair skin and dirty blonde hair).  And she’d seen us there together countless times (does anyone really spend as much time with a cousin as they do with a spouse?).  Bottom line, I am hard-pressed to believe she actually thought Mike and I were cousins.

Since that night, I didn’t see her again for a very long time, until one day when I was at the sub shop with my mom and sister.  When it was our turn to order, my mom (who didn’t know the story of the sub girl’s unwaning love for my husband) said Oh, hi S—!  How’s your mom, honey?  What a twisted situation. 

I had no idea that my mom knew her…actually, as it turns out, I knew her too.  My parents have known her uncle and parents since before I was born, and she’s actually been to my parents’ house for dinner before (granted, it was 15 years ago and there’s no way she and I would have recognized each other now).  Later I told my mom what S had done and with a shocked/horrified expression on her face she exclaimed, I wonder what her mother would say about that!  Ha!  Me too, Mom. 

Funnily enough, Mike and I went shopping late last night and she was our cashier!  And she was sweet as pie.  Even to me, lol. 

I guess the moral of the story is don’t hit on married men!  You never know if their wives know your mother.  ;)

So, about this popcorn.  One of the reasons for our late-night trip to the store last night was that I was in the mood for what we call Dutch Windmill Cookies (they’re really called Speculaas ;) ), which are crisp, deliciously warm-spiced cookies with almonds.  These wonderful cookies used to be sold in the bulk bin at my grocery store, but alas, they were nowhere to be found when we went.  We didn’t leave the store empty-handed, but we didn’t get anything close to these cookies either.  I really wasn’t in the mood for baking cookies, but I was still in the mood for them…and then I had an idea.

I remembered my Butter Toffee Popcorn and started thinking about how to turn it into something that tasted like those spicy cookies.  Molasses, warm spices, and toasted slivered almonds worked out quite nicely!  And bonus, if you’re looking for an easy homemade holiday gift to make for co-workers/neighbors, this would be perfect.

Gingerbread Popcorn (Flavor inspired by Speculaas cookies and recipe adapted from my recipe for Butter Toffee Popcorn)

Yields about 12 to 15 servings

12 cups air-popped popcorn (1/2 cup popcorn kernels)

1 cup toasted sliced almonds

1 teaspoon baking soda

1 teaspoon cinnamon

1 teaspoon ginger

1/2 teaspoon nutmeg

1/4 teaspoon cloves

1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter

1 cup light brown sugar, lightly packed

2 tablespoons molasses

1 tablespoon water

Pinch salt

1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

Toss together the popcorn and nuts in a large bowl; set aside.  Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper or a silpat liner; set aside.  Sift together the baking soda, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, and cloves in a small bowl; set aside.

Cook the butter, sugar, molasses, water, and salt in a medium-sized, thick-bottomed saucepan over medium heat until the temperature reaches 305F (hard crack stage), stirring occasionally.  Carefully stir in the vanilla and baking soda/spice mix, and pour over the popcorn/nut mixture. 

Use two heat-safe rubber spatulas to toss the popcorn around to distribute the toffee throughout.  Spread the popcorn out onto the prepared baking sheet.  Let it cool and then break it apart; store in an airtight container at room temperature.

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Hello! I’m Faith and I write An Edible Mosaic. This is my recipe collection of international favorites and updated American classics, with an emphasis on seasonal dishes. I focus on real foods that sustain body and mind, bring people together, and make a house a home. Welcome to my mosaic of recipes.

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