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Pumpkin Seed Christmas Munch! (AND Bonus-Recipe… Holiday Spiced Pumpkin Seeds)

December 1, 2010

How’s THAT for a hokey title?

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But this stuff is not to be dismissed based on its title (or anything else for that matter!)  You have to try it to believe it.  My husband was sure he wouldn’t like it.  I think he thought the ingredient list was just a leeeeettle too crazy.  But he had no idea how good it would be.  We both gobbled up every last leftover bit (after I filled up a few jars to give to friends, of course!)

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If you’d rather use up your pumpkin seeds without climbing all the way into that indulgent, sugar-filled, holiday sin-wagon the rest of us have happily boarded, just use the first part of this recipe to make delicious Christmas-spiced pumpkin seeds.  They are WAY good by themselves.

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Here’s what you need:

-nonstick cooking spray

-1 bag butter-flavored microwave popcorn

-2 squares white chocolate & 2 squares almond bark (or 4 squares of either)

-1/2 Tablespoon Crisco

-3 T. butter

-4 T. caramel sauce

-1/2 C. dried cherries

-1/4 C. pistachios

-red sugar sprinkles

-1/2 tsp cinnamon, 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg, 1/4 teaspoon ginger, salt for sprinkling

-and of course… pumpkin seeds!   (This is about 1 1/2 – 2 Cups)

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I like where this is going.

Ok, start by making the Christmas spiced pumpkin seeds.  Its super easy.

Just preheat your oven to 400.  And lay foil down on a large baking sheet.

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And give it a light spray so the seeds don’t stick or make a mess!

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Spread the seeds out in a thin, even layer…

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And spray lightly on top of them as well, so that the salt will stick.

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Great.

Now sprinkle salt on so that it lightly dusts each and every seed.  This is a vital part of the sweet/salty combo we are working to achieve in the finished product.

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Now stick these in the oven to pre-toast for 8 minutes.

Meanwhile, lets prepare the yummy, caramely, spiced coating we’re going to bake into these babies!

Melt 3 T. butter in a small saucepan.

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When that’s melted add in the caramel sauce, whisking to combine.

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Then add the spices!

Mmmmm.

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Mix this all together and try not to let it bubble too violently while you wait for the seeds to finish their 8-minute warm-up.

Ok. Good.  Pull them out now and scoop them into a bowl.

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And pour on the coating!  Mix it all together to coat the seeds well.

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Then just dump it back onto the same foil-lined pan and spread it into a thin layer again.

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Then just stick them right back in that 400 degree oven for 10-14 minutes.  (If you like them darker, obviously let them roast for 14… but please don’t do less than 10.  If they turn out mushy it’ll somehow be my fault and I can’t handle mushy pumpkin seeds being my fault!)

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While that’s happening… get your chocolate melting and your popcorn popping.

I did popcorn first!

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For the white chocolate and almond bark… scoop out about 1/2 Tablespoon of shortening to melt with them.  Also, give the bark a little 20-second head start.  It takes longer to soften than the white chocolate does.

(This is too much shortening in the photo, by the way.  I never know how much I shoulda used til afterward.  If you use my reccommended 1/2 Tablespoon, I think you’ll be golden!)

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As always, let the chocolate (or bark) melt in short increments.   It can be finicky.  Take it out of the microwave and stir about every 20 seconds.  3 or 4 of those 20-second spurts should be enough.

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Now, dump in anywhere from 3/4 to a full bag of popcorn.  I couldn’t fit quite a whole bag in here.

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Gently stir so that a nice chocolate coating forms all over the popcorn.

Feel free to sprinkle on a few Christmas-y red sugar sprinkles!  These actually add a really excellent texture to the coating.  Plus, they’re festive.

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Next, grab large handfulls of the Christmas-spiced pumpkin seeds and begin breaking them up into the bowl.

Feel free to begin the sampling process at any time, by the way.  🙂

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And now for two very important additions!

Pistachios and Dried Cherries.

Not only do these two ingredients add fabulous Christmas-y color to the mix… they also add a bit of chew, a bit of zing, and a bit a of rich crunch!  (I’m a dried cherry lover, in case you didn’t know.  And I beg you not to leave these out.)

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Now… just stiiiirrrrrrrrrrr it all up again!  I’m telling you, this stuff’s money in the bank.  You could sell it in jars for $12.99 a pop and probably get away with it!

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I strongly suggest storing this in mason jars because they’re airtight AND see-through!  This Christmas Munch really makes a very beautiful decoration in your home until you’re ready to eat it.

Of course, if you’re anything like me you were probably ready to eat it ten minutes ago…

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But mine is going with me to Texas this weekend so I had to resist and limit myself to what wouldn’t fit in the jars.

Such a hard life I lead.

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Ribbons really are a pretty addition.  I highly recommend them!

And if you’re extra cutesy/crafty… a little personalized tag might be nice!  (My patience pretty much ends in the kitchen… which is why no cute labels were made for these jars.  If only I could go back to the days of not having a job!  I had LOTS of time to be crafty in the summers when I was 12.  Where have those days gone?)

Enjoy the Christmas Munch!  I know I’m doing just that.

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