HYPERACTIVITY ALERT: SUGAR & SPICE XMAS POPCORN

And you thought we’d left out the little people! This sweet, cinnamony and zesty popcorn is our lazy-lady take on Jamie Oliver’s Spiced Sugar & Christmas Popcorn. Jamie grinds his bay leaves and spices, but we just chucked them in whole with the sugar, which will have a more subtle effect – but you still get plenty of flavour action with the lemon and clementine zest.

We take no responsibility for the demonic possession-like behaviour this sweet treat may induce in your child. You’re on your own from here, honey.

Makes a bowl big enough to impress the kids; but two adults could take this on.

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Ingredients
Spiced sugar
300g caster sugar (white looks nice, but I like unrefined golden caster sugar)
1 vanilla pod, split with seeds scraped
1 fresh bay leaf (use 2 if they’re small)
A pinch of ground cloves (tread softly with this – kids can find cloves quite strong; or use 3 whole cloves which will just give a whisper of flavour)
A pinch of cinnamon
A pinch of nutmeg
Zest of 1 lemon and 1 clementine (you can use an orange, but clementines are more Christmassy)

25g butter
2/3 cup popcorn kernels
2 1/2 tbsp spiced sugar (see above)

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1. For the spiced sugar, combine all of the ingredients in a bowl – pop in the the scraped vanilla pod too because it looks nice. Jamie suggests spreading the sugar mix on a tray and allowing it to dry out – there will be some moisture from the zest.

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2. Melt the butter in a heavy-based pan over a medium-high heat. Pour in your popcorn, stir to coat the kernels in butter and cover with a lid. As you hear the kernels start to pop, give the pan a good shake so you don’t end up with burnt bits. As the popping starts to slow down, take the pan off the heat and immediately transfer the popcorn to a large mixing bowl.

3. Sprinkle over your spiced sugar and toss the popcorn until evenly coated. If the sugar isn’t sticking, melt a little more butter in the microwave and pour it over the popcorn, then toss it all again.

4. Serve it in cute cups or paper bags (or make cones out of any leftover gift wrap – bonus points if you’ve decorated it yourself. But kids will still love you forever if you just serve it in the same bowl you’ve mixed it in.

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Yes, there will be loads of leftover sugar. It will keep for ages, so transfer it to a jar and try not to eat spoonfuls as a snack. Try sprinkling it over pancakes, or bake some plain mini muffins and dust them in the good stuff for a kinda-donut.

Photography & styling: Emma Scott-Child

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