If you’re looking for gluten-free, egg-free, dairy-free treats to send to class parties this Valentine’s Day, try mixing up a big batch of pink popcorn. This is the stuff my sisters and I used to make for special occasions when we were kids, using any number of Jell-O colors, or a whole bunch (in separate batches) to make rainbow popcorn we sometimes sold at our lemonade stands. It’s perfect party fare served in a big bowl or divvied up into small bags, Chinese take-out containers or to-go cups for each child to bring home. Pink popcorn is equally perfect for Easter hunting (fill small plastic eggs or decorated bags) or as a take home treat at birthday parties.
You can use any type of red Jell-O powder for this; I tried cherry and raspberry and liked the flavour of raspberry better, although the cherry was a paler pink.
4 L popped popcorn
2 cups sugar
1/2 small box red Jell-O gelatin powder
1/2 cup water
1 Tbsp. butter (or non-hydrogenated margarine if you want it dairy-free)
1 tsp. vanilla
1/4 tsp. baking soda
Put the popped popcorn in a large bowl, carefully picking out any unpopped kernels. (I do this by popping into one bowl and shaking the bowl back and forth a bit, then lightly scooping out the popcorn with my hands into another, leaving the unpopped kernels in the bottom.) Preheat the oven to 250°F. Line one or two rimmed baking sheets with foil.
In a medium saucepan (with room for the mixture to at least double in size), bring the sugar, Jell-O, water and butter to a boil. Once fully boiling cook for 4 minutes without stirring, swirling the bowl occasionally. Remove from the heat and stir in the vanilla and soda. Pour over the popcorn and toss with tongs to coat completely.
Spread out onto the baking sheets and bake, stirring once or twice, for an hour. Set aside to cool, then break into chunks. Makes about 16 cups.