Friday, 10 May 2013

For Terry Pratchett (1948 - ),

"'What you do is, you take some corn, and you put it in, say, a Number 3 crucible, with some cooking oil, you see, and then you put a plate or something on top of it, and when you heat it up it goes bang, I mean, not seriously bang, and when it's stopped banging you take the plate off and it's metamorphosed into these, er, things...' He looked at their uncomprehending faces. 'You can eat it,' he mumbled apologetically. 'If you put butter and salt on it, it tastes like salty butter.'... 'I just call it banged grains.'"
   -- Moving Pictures

I like me some banged grains.

It goes with being a cinephile. After decades of excitedly rushing into cinemas, giddy with the thought of seeing the latest French film starring a floating red balloon, or Vin Diesel movie featuring one-and-a-half facial expressions, you start to thrill at the smell of salt and butter. It's positively Pavlovian.

Though if you ask me, cinema popcorn is one of those un-treats that seems good in theory, but inevitably tastes like oily polystyrene. In fact, my ex-projectionist paramour claims that, after working around that stuff for 8+ hours at a time, you stop associating it with the glamour of the moving picture, and start associating it with sticky floors and vomitous children.

But I say it's time to reinvent popcorn. It's time to remember that, before it was an overpriced fake-yellow adornment to movie theatre carpets, it was something magical. It's as Terry Pratchett puts it in Moving Pictures, his brilliant satire of the early days of Hollywood. Just as there's something mysterious and grand about images that move in front of your very eyes, so too there's a charm to tough grains that burst into fluffy pillows with just a little heat and oil.

So here's to banged grains: plain, cinemafied,or jazzed up. Here's to banged grains that are healthy, nutty, pimped, or purple. And here's to mine: popped proof that if you want to improve a slightly tacky cinema snack, you should smoosh another slightly tacky cinema snack into it. My tacky cinema snack of choice, part two, is the epic Australian chocolate bar that mixes cherries and coconut with dark chocolate.

That's right... it's Cherry Ripe flavoured popcorn! Mmm, it's like a multiplex exploded in my mouth.

Cherry Ripe Popcorn

2 tbsp oil
1/2 C popping corn
1/2 C dark chocolate melts
1 tbsp milk
1/2 C coconut threads or chips (I used a combination)
1/3 C glace cherries, chopped


Heat the oil in a large, lidded saucepan on medium-high. Add the popcorn kernels and clamp that lid down tight.  Leave it (rotating the pan occasionally if your stove heats unevenly) until the corn has mostly popped, with one pop every 2 seconds or so.

Meanwhile, microwave the chocolate and milk until it is melted and smooth. I usually err on the side of undermelting (one minute on high) and then stir until my arm hurts - you definitely don't want to overestimate the timing and have dry clumps on your hands.

Toast the coconut in a dry pan until it turns golden brown. Have your coconut, glace cherries, and liquid chocolate at the ready.

Transfer the popped popcorn into a large bowl, discarding any unpopped kernels. Add half the toasted coconut and chopped cherries. Drizzle over the chocolate, stirring as you go. Keep drizzling and stirring until you've got a good  consistent chocolate coating throughout the popcorn. (It won't be completely covered - this is definitely a more popcorny than chocolately end product.) Spread the popcorn out onto a tray and leave for around an hour, to allow the chocolate to set.

Break up the popcorn clumps with your fingers. If you're serving this at a party, you can present individual portions by piling the popcorn into muffin cups. (That's what I did, even though the party was mostly in my head.) Top with the remaining coconut and cherries.

1 comment:

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