Recipe: Chai-Spiced Popcorn Bars
Sometimes I get a little too ambitious and buy big bags of popcorn to snack on, but after a few handfuls, I find that there’s more left than I can eat through before it goes stale. The best way I’ve found to use it up? Channeling crispy marshmallow treats and coating the popcorn with butter, melty marshmallows, and a homemade chai spice blend to keep things interesting.
I find the smell of chai, with its mix of fragrant spices, intoxicating, and making it at home is as easy as mixing together cinnamon, cardamom, allspice, ginger, cloves, and black pepper.
Stir the spice blend into melted marshmallows, butter, and plain popcorn, and then press the whole thing into a baking dish to set. Finish by sprinkling the bars with some more of the chai spice for a pretty hit of color, and then dive into these chewy treats.
Unlike their bar counterparts, which stay crunchy for a few days, popcorn bars are best eaten the day they are made (before the popcorn softens). Fortunately, this recipe comes together in just a few minutes when you need a fast sweet snack.
Chai-Spiced Popcorn Bars
Makes 20 pieces
For the chai spice:
3/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground cardamom
1/2 teaspoon ground allspice
1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
Large pinch ground cloves
Large pinch freshly ground black pepper
For the popcorn bars:
Cooking spray or butter, for greasing the baking dish
4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) unsalted butter
1/2 teaspoon fine salt
12 cups popped popcorn
For the chai spice: Combine all the spices together in a small bowl. Set aside 1/2 teaspoon of the spice mixture for sprinkling on the top; reserve the rest for mixing into the popcorn bars.
For the popcorn bars: Line a 9×13-inch baking dish with parchment paper, making sure there is extra paper hanging off of 2 sides. Coat the paper and sides of the pan with cooking spray or butter; set aside.
Melt the butter in a large pot over low heat. Stir in the spice mixture and salt and cook until the spices are fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add the marshmallows and cook, stirring occasionally, until completely melted and smooth, 6 to 8 minutes.
Remove the pan from the heat and add the popcorn. Stir with a rubber spatula until the popcorn is completely coated in the marshmallow mixture. Transfer the mixture to the baking dish and use hands dampened with water to press it into the corners of the pan and into an even layer. Sift the reserved 1/2 teaspoon chai spices over the surface of the bars and let cool completely, about 10 minutes.
Grasp the parchment and lift the bars out of the baking dish and onto a cutting board. Cut into 20 pieces.
- Storage: These bars are best eaten the same day they are made, as they soften up quickly. If you have leftovers, store in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 2 days.