We remember the days when party guests went home with one small party favor. That got exploded into gift bags. But we think that less is more, so we tend to send guests home with a few homemade cookies or a slice of pie. This year, while there will certainly be pie “to go,” they’re also getting a pumpkin Pie Spice Popcorn Bar.
The flavors of the season—pumpkin spice, dried cranberries, pecans—are blended into a snack bar with popcorn, marshmallows, and white chocolate.
Wait a minute: Why do we say “bar,” when the recipe is called “bark?”
With all due respect, some people who write recipes often give names that they feel make it sound more exciting or more relatable, even though it may be inaccurate (and sometimes they don’t realize that it’s inaccurate—see the footnote for examples).
This is a popcorn snack bar. The original name of the recipe, from the Popcorn Board, is popcorn bark.
However, bark is a sheet of chocolate, often covered with nuts, dried fruits, candies, or even additional pieces of chocolate; then broken into pieces. This pan of popcorn is cut into proper squares.
Call it a bar or bark, we’re making it as gifts for our Thanksgiving guests to take home. (Because as stuffed as they may be as they walk out the door, they’re happy to have a treat for the following day.)
Don’t want to make popcorn bars?
Here are more pumpkin snacks and desserts.
Ingredients For 12 Three-Inch Squares
1. LINE a large baking sheet with foil and spray lightly with cooking spray; set aside.
2. COMBINE in a large bowl, the popcorn, marshmallows, pecans, cereal, pepitas, dried cranberries and pumpkin spice mix.
3. PLACE the chopped chocolate in a microwave-safe bowl and heat in the microwave for 1 minute. Stir to combine; then microwave an additional minute. Stir until the chocolate is melted and smooth.
4. POUR the melted chocolate over the popcorn mixture. Mix until well coated and spread in an even layer into the prepared pan. Cool at room temperature until firm (or refrigerate).
*One example is a Welsh Rarebit. Its proper name is Welsh Rabbit, because it was a meatless dish made with melted cheese on toast, easy to make when the hunter of the house failed to come home with any game for dinner. It was changed to “rarebit” to sound more appealing to Americans. A related recipe that never crossed the pond is Scotch Woodcock, which is scrambled eggs on buttered toast spread with anchovy paste.
But if you like anchovy paste, doesn’t it sound delicious?
More misnomers: Cheesecake is not a cake but a cheese custard pie. Boston cream pie is not a pie but a layer cake—and don’t spell it “creme,” which is an American attempt to make a dessert sound more elegant. “Crème” is a French word pronounced KREM, not CREEM. Rocky Mountain Oysters are the testicles of calves, goats, or sheep. Prairie oysters are bull testicles.
On another note: Yams are a totally different tuber than sweet potatoes (the difference). The animal that roams the American West and ends up in the meat case is bison, not buffalo (the difference). Peanuts are not nuts but legumes (in the same family as peas and lentils). Cashews are not nuts, but seeds. And so on and so on.
†In some recipes you can substitute three tablespoons of white chocolate chips to replace one ounce of white baking chocolate. However, do not substitute in this recipe or others that call for melting the white chocolate. Chocolate chips contain less cocoa butter than baking chocolate or chocolate bars, and have added stabilizers to help them keep their shape in the oven.