Happy almost April!
Are you an April Fools person? I am not. Not because I don’t love a good prank, but because I always forget about it! Every darn year. And then when I do remember, it’s usually too late to plan anything good. This year is no different. Sigh.
While I don’t have anything sneaky up my sleeve, I DO have a fun springtime snack mix to share with you all today in honor of tomorrow being the first day of April (which, to me, really feels like the beginning of spring). It is LOADED with some of my favorite Easter candy nibbles and salty snacks. It’s a sweet, salty, chocolatey, caramely pile of goodness. How’s that sound?
I am a huge fan of snacks. In fact, my eating style is one of a grazer. Meaning, my preferred way to eat is to spread my food out over the entire day by munching on mini meals or snacks, rather than eating three big meals. Of course, life doesn’t always work in my favor, but when I do get a snacking day, I am very pleased.
Popcorn is, hands down, one of my two favorite salty munches. The other is cheddar cheese slices on Triscuit crackers. Seriously. If I have anything to say about it, Triscuits and cheddar will probably be a part of my last meal (snack?) on earth. But popcorn is waaaay up there for me! It is a fun munch that completely satisfies. And nothing goes better with a movie and a glass of wine. It’s also pretty nostalgic for me.
We grew up with my dad being popcorn master. For game days or lazy movie marathon Sundays in our house, he would always make fresh popcorn on the stove in a little oil and season it only with a little salt. No butter. No fancy seasonings. No cheese. Just lightly salted. And even though I ADORE buttery (and cheesy!) popcorn, the simply salted version is still my absolute favorite.
So that’s what I used today. Simply salted popcorn. It works really well with the other ingredients going on today, and the marshmallow caramel that gets poured over top of everything is especially delicious with that extra salty popcorn bite. Snack perfection, I tell ya! (Fun fact: if you’re pressed for time you can always pick up a bag of SkinnyPop’s original flavored popcorn for this! I loooove their popcorn as a quick and healthy snack. It would work perfectly here.)
To echo the saltiness, I added in some mini pretzels and chopped nuts, and both were good decisions. This mix is primarily made up of sweet things, so the salty balance was necessary. And again, that caramel sauce over pretzels and nuts isn’t hurting anyone. Except maybe their summer bods? That’s neither here nor there, though. Not today, anyway.
Today we feast on this fun. Just look at that! How can that NOT make you happy?! FUN.
Speaking of fun. You can have a lot of it with snack mixes like this. You have the freedom to totally make them your own. I went a little nuts with the Easter candy because Target wins every time. Really, the score by now has got to be something like: Target – 239819381, Molly – 0. The Easter section is no joke, and I loaded up on all sorts of goodies, both for this mix and for Kieran’s Easter basket (and backyard egg hunt!). Pastel-colored M&M’s, pastel-colored PEANUT BUTTER M&M’s, Starburst jellybeans, mini rainbow marshmallows, cute spring sprinkles, and some chocolate chips for good measure. You can never have enough chocolate, right?
Those were my choices. But you can swap stuff in and out as much as you like! My husband thought this was fantastic but requested that the next batch have Reese’s pieces involved. Sounds good to me.
One ingredient Dan was VERY happy about was the Cinnamon Toast Crunch cereal. When I was brainstorming this recipe, I knew I wanted a cereal in there for more heft and texture, but I wasn’t quite sure which one. Then, in the store, CTC just jumped out at me. I thought it would be delicious with the other ingredients, and boy, was I right. It happens to be Dan’s favorite cereal of all time, and as an adult, he never eats it. So, it was sort of meant to be in our house. It added an awesome crunch and cinnamon flavor to things. And it made my husband very, very happy (we still have two-thirds of a box left over).
Kieran was really into this snack mix as well. He was watching me make it and had his hand in the M&M’s practically the entire time, but he was mesmerized by the caramel sauce getting drizzled and then had so much fun helping me with the candies, especially the sprinkles. He wants to put sprinkles (or as he calls them “spinkoles”) on EVERYTHING. Which is why I thought they were a necessary addition. For my little Bug.
Whether you’re a snacker like me or just someone who is looking for a fun springtime, Easter-eque recipe, this mix is for you. It has just about everything you could need.
And then some!
1 stick of unsalted butter
1 cup light brown sugar
2 tablespoons light corn syrup
12 large marshmallows
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon sea salt
8 cups popped popcorn (I use and ADORE this air popper)
2 cups mini pretzels
2 cups cereal of choice (I used Cinnamon Toast Crunch)
1 cup salted nuts of choice, lightly chopped (I used macadamia nuts)
1 cup mini marshmallows
1 cup chocolate chips
1 cup M&M candies
½ cup jellybeans
1 tablespoon rainbow sprinkles
In a medium saucepan, melt the butter over medium heat. Add the brown sugar and corn syrup and cook, stirring constantly, until melted and combined, about 2 minutes. Add the marshmallows and stir until completely melted. Remove the pan from the heat and stir in the vanilla and salt.
In a large bowl, toss together the popcorn, pretzels, cereal, and nuts. Spread the mixture out in an even layer on two large baking sheets lined with parchment paper.
Carefully pour the marshmallow coating over the mixture, coating it as evenly as possible. Gently toss with a spatula until everything is evenly coated.
Once the mixture has mostly cooled, add the marshmallows, chocolate chips, and candies. Sprinkle everything with sprinkles and toss to coat.
Store the snack mix in an airtight container for up to a week. It should stay soft and slightly gooey.
Marshmallow coating adapted from here.