Hungry Happenings: Celebrate Earth Day or Spring by making Chocolate Popcorn Trees

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Celebrate Earth Day or Spring by making Chocolate Popcorn Trees


Our world has changed so much in just my lifetime and sadly not for the better in a lot of ways. We've made human life easier through industrialization, but more detrimental to the planet we live on.  I heard recently that it is estimated that 1000 dolphins and whales are killed in fishing nets every day. Millions of other sea creatures are dying or having their health effected by the Great Pacific Garbage Patch, an enormous pile of swirling trash in the ocean. According to a New York Times article it is estimated to be twice the size of Texas. It's awful!

I have become very conscious of the things I do that have a real impact on our planet and have made many changes; I recycle, use fabric shopping bags, drive a hybrid car, buy energy efficient appliances, use only florescent or led light bulbs, compost our food waste, grow vegetables and fruits in our yard, and have even been known to pick up litter while taking a walk on the beach. My husband and I are constantly looking for ways to make our lives more environmentally friendly. I'm not perfect; I like my air conditioning way too much to give it up, use too many paper towels, and package my chocolates in cellophane bags - but I'm trying.

Taking time with nature is a vital part of my life. I love to hike, walk my dogs, and ride my bike along the river. Just sitting on my front porch is one of my favorite things to do. My neighbors across the street all have beautiful flowers and trees for us to look at while we just relax and enjoy the fresh air. To celebrate the warm porch sitting weather, the new life of spring, and Earth Day, I created some chocolate trees topped with white chocolate popcorn leaves. Some even are adorned with candy fruit.

Chocolate Popcorn Trees 

Before you begin  If you don't have much experience working with confectionery coating/candy melts, you might want to read my Chocolate Making Tips.

Ingredients:

popped popcorn (air popped works best)*
colorful candies, optional - Candy Coated Sunflower Seeds, Candy Buttons, or M&M's

*The amount of each of these ingredients will depend on the size and quantity of your trees. I used 6 ounces of the light cocoa candy melts to make the trunks and branches of my 5 trees. I mixed 10 ounces of green candy melts with 6 cups of popped popcorn for the leaves. 

Supplies:

baking sheets
parchment or wax paper
disposable pastry bag or zip top bag

Instructions:


Line baking sheets with parchment or wax paper. Pour melted light cocoa candy melts into a disposable pastry bag or zip top bag. Pipe a tree trunk with branches onto the parchment paper. Refrigerate for 3-5 minutes, just until hardened. Continue to pipe trees until you have the desired number of trees.


Pour popped popcorn into a large mixing bowl. Pour melted green candy coating over popcorn and stir and toss until well combined.


Immediately spoon green popcorn over the branches of your trees. If you don't work quickly, and the popcorn hardens in the bowl, heat it in the microwave for 10 seconds, then stir. Heat more if needed.


While the popcorn is still wet, add colored candy pieces to create fruit trees if desired. Refrigerate your trees for about 5 minutes until hardened. I used yellow candy coated sunflower seeds to make lemon trees, and jumbo candy buttons to make the apples and oranges. You could use M&M's, Reese's Pieces, confetti decorations, or even make your own using candy melts.



You can make your trees more sturdy by turning them over and piping chocolate on the back of the tree trunk and adding more popcorn to the backside too. 


Note: To create the grass in my scene, I colored coconut using green food coloring. 



In 2003, I created my first chocolate popcorn tree to be part of a Peeps on the Farm in Ohio basket. Just Born, the maker of Peeps, was hosting a contest asking entrants to use Peeps to create a scene featuring their home state. It was Ohio's bicentennial and all over the state white barns were painted with the bicentennial logo, so I chose to create a fun day on the farm scene out of chocolate, candy and Peeps. The only things in this entire scene that aren't edible are the basket, the pole holding the airplane, and the toothpick fishing poles. The buckeye tree, the official state tree, has tiny peanut butter fudge buckeyes sitting among it's white chocolate popcorn leaves. I didn't win the $10,000 grand prize, but I did win first prize in my state and received a year's supply of Peeps - 365 packages of Peeps arrived on my doorstep in several huge boxes. I was passing out Peeps for months.


If you like this recipe please share it with others by using the share buttons below. I really appreciate being Stumbled Upon and Pinned, and am always grateful to those of you that share my ideas on your website. I do request that you don't post my entire tutorial, but rather share a picture with a link. If you make this recipe, I'd love for you to send me a photo to beth@hungryhappenings.com so that I can share it in my Reader's Gallery. I link my recipes up to lots of websites that are listed hereThank you for visiting Hungry Happenings - Beth 




48 comments:

  1. What a great idea! So very impressed once again.

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  2. Such a cute idea! You have the best ideas!

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  3. I thought this was a wonderful idea anyway but after seeing the Ohio reference, I fell head over heels. :-) Born and bred Ohio country girl here!

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    1. Thanks Tammy. I've lived in Ohio most of my life. I left for a while but came back because it is home.

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  4. Your trees are so darn cute and perfect for Earth Day!

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  5. Those are adorable! I love your creativity and am so glad that I started getting your emails.

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  6. So cute, Beth! I love your little scene! I can't imagine what the grand prize looked like because yours is amazing!

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    1. Thanks Sue, the grand prize featured George W. Bush Peeps, so my farmer Peeps were beat out by the President. I worked hard and would have loved to win $10,000 but had a great time creating my edible scene. It was the first time I made a sculptural piece out of chocolate.

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    2. Dear Beth,

      I stumble upon your web when I was looking for modeling chocolate recipe and I was glad I found your blog.
      You have fantastic ideas and I was so excited when I saw all your creations.

      In particular, I love the popcorn trees and the scene you created.
      To me, it's like an art piece.

      Btw, I am planning a bunny themed party for my son's 1 year old birthday and would like to create something like yours.
      Just wondering if you could share the items/ingredients used in creating it?

      Would be very grateful if you are able to.

      Thanks & regards,
      Patsy (Singapore)

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  7. The popcorn really works perfect for the trees. Love the lemons! Congrats on your prize, you deserved it. Pinning.

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  8. Pretty! Everyone will fall in love with this and take care of mother Nature once again. You are genius!

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  9. You do the cutest things!! I've got some little grandkids that would love to do this. I'm going to share it with my daughters.

    And Beth....don't beat yourself up that you're not doing enough to be green. You are doing an amazing job. If we all did as much as you do then this planet would be a whole lot more greener. It surely does start with each of us. And I didn't even know about that big swirly garbage thing in the ocean. It makes me sick. Thanks for sharing that. Makes me want to do better.

    Nann

    PS I wanted to make your darling fuzzy coconut chick cake balls for our Grandkids easter party and my husband even helped with making the little balls (a very healthy no bake recipe) but that and a couple of other things we had to forgoe because of time. I showed your pictures to everyone though.

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    1. Hi Nann, thanks for all your kind words. I was shocked when I heard about the garbage pile in the ocean. It was the one major thing that made me more aware of the amount of garbage I had been producing.

      Thanks for sharing my recipe pictures with others. Hopefully you'll find time next Easter to make the little chicks:)

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  10. Wonderful!!!!! Thanks!!!
    Davvero molto divertente!!! Grazie mille...
    Paola

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  11. Great Idea.
    Me encanta la idea, es perfecta para los niños

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  12. Love your trees, I might be able grow some too! :)

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  13. Thank you all! I'm so glad to see people reacting so positively to these chocolate trees.

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  14. These look delicious! Thanks for the idea...and the Sugar Rush!

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  15. These trees are amazing! Love~Love! I think these would be so cute around the sides of a cake. Your presentation is adorable..of course! :)

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  16. Such a fun idea, and a great tutorial. Thanks for sharing! Did you know you were featured on Sweet Sixteen: Earth Day Collection? I followed the "gps" to find your blog, and I'm glad I did! Very clever!

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  17. Very clever! Great tutorial! Did you know your trees were featured on Sweet Sixteen: Earth Day Collection? Congratulations on being featured! I'm glad I followed the "gps" to find your blog!

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  18. Hi Beth, I featured these adorable trees on my printables blog here: http://printabelle.com/?p=2629 I don't know if you have a featured area, but my button is here: http://printabelle.com/?page_id=724 Thanks!!

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  19. just so you know, I think you are a genius! I love your blog, Beth!! I just wish I had endless time to create your fun items!

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  20. Thank you so much Beth for linking up your trees and sun pops on Dare to Share. The kids really want me to try and make some. Since this was one of my family's favorite links you have been featured this week. http://pamspartyplanning.blogspot.com/2012/04/dare-to-share-3-features.html

    I hope you come back again and link up some more of your wonderful creations.

    Pam
    http://pamspartyplanning.blogspot.com/2012/04/dare-to-share-4.html

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    1. I'm glad your family liked the trees. Thanks for featuring them on your site. I haven't had time to link up anywhere this week, but will surely be back to link soon.

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  21. Omg, this is the first time I go on your site. I just have to say you are awesome. I love your ideas. I wish I had a friend like you close by. You could help me out with ideas when I get stuck on a project. I love your work. Please continue. God bless your hands.

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    1. Thanks Marcie. I'm glad you found my blog and have enjoyed what you've seen. I'm here to help; if you have any questions about a project, let me know.

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  22. Dear Beth,

    I stumble upon you web and am so excited to see your creations.
    I am planning a bunny theme party for my son's upcoming 1 year old party and would like to create a similar scene like yours.
    Wonder if you would share what's were the ingredients/items used ? To make up those picket fence, the wheel barrow, picnic basket etc.

    Please please do ... I hope I can get professional advice from you do that I can create something memorable for my son.

    Thanks & regards,
    Patsy

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    1. Hi Patsy, Almost everything that wasn't a Peep in this basket was created with chocolate. I poured white chocolate onto a piece of parchment paper and allowed it to set a bit, then cut out the picket fence and the pieces of the wheel barrow, and the barn. I honestly don't remember how I made the basket but it could be made using modeling chocolate. I made the carrots using modeling chocolate too. You can see a tutorial I did featuring a bunny devouring a bunch of carrots. It might give you some fun ideas too. Go here ... http://www.hungryhappenings.com/2012/03/ravenous-rabbit-cupcakes-are-sure-to.html. I hope this helps.

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    2. Oh, just to let you know the tree in the basket was 3-D. I sculpted the tree trunk using modeling chocolate, painted a thin layer of chocolate over top and allowed it to dry. Then I added the green popcorn. I made buckeyes using peanut butter fudge dipped in chocolate and added them to the tree because the Buckeye tree is Ohio's state tree.

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  23. Dear Beth,

    Thank you so much for your reply. I tried making the modelling choc following your tutorial and though it turn out really oily in the beginning (i think the corn syrup?/cocoa butter? was seeping out a lot), it turn out fine after i followed your advice to persist and keep kneading. Boy, was i thrilled ! :D

    I make some carrots and though it don't look half as good & real as yours, i feel great and had fun ! :) Thanks for your detailed tutorial with all the troubleshooting. It REALLY helps !

    Wow, you sculpted the trunk! Hmmm, not sure if I can do that. Still, will give it a try for my beloved son's BIG day. :)

    BUT the saddest thing for me now is I cant find Peeps marshmallow! There used to be a candy store in Universal Studio Singapore (I'm residing in Singapore) carrying it but now they stopped! :(

    So now I have to look for alternatives for the leading character - the bunny ! Wish me luck I can find 1 soon or would you have any ideas to enlighten?

    Really thanks for your advice & help ... :)

    Regards,
    Patsy

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    1. Hi Patsy,

      I'm happy you found my trouble shooting instructions helpful and were able to fix your oily modeling chocolate. Bunny shaped Peeps are usually only in stores from January until Easter. I would suggest just sculpting them out of modeling chocolate. I don't know of any other alternatives. You can make your own bunny shaped marshmallow peeps if you'd like. Just Google recipes. I know there are several tutorials available. I can't wait to see your creation!

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  24. Dear Beth,

    Thanks for your reply and advice. I tried your modelling chocolate and it turn out fine. Your tutorial is really helpful with all the troubleshooting.

    Now, the saddest thing for me is I cannot find Peeps marshmallow in Singapore, where I am residing. They stopped carrying it ! :(

    I would have to source for alternatives for the leading character - the bunny! Would you have any ideas to enlighten?

    Regards,
    Patsy

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    1. Dear Beth,

      Thank you for your help. Now I have another challenge. I tried modeling chocolate using white chocolate and it was fine. But now when I use dark chocolate (to make the trunk), the dough look rough and tattered, not smooth no matter how I knead. But it's now dry as the dough is still rather oily.

      What could be the problem? Pls help ! Please.

      Thanks a lot,
      Patsy

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    2. Hi Patsy, Every chocolate has different amounts of sugars and cocoa butter or oils in them so you have to make adjustments to the amount of corn syrup. When my modeling chocolate feels rough like that, I knead in more corn syrup. If the oils really start to seep out, then set it in a plastic bowl for about 10 minutes. Then go back and try to knead it again. I usually wear food handling gloves when I do this as the dough will be very sticky as you knead in the corn syrup. Continue to add corn syrup until you get a smooth modeling chocolate.

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  25. Dear Beth,

    This is Patsy. Thought I should show you what I created for my boy's birthday. Thank you so much for your great advice. I couldn't have done this without your ideas, suggestions. The kids absolutely LOVE the cake and had fun gobbling up the stuff.

    I did the popcorn trees and make all those edible decorations on the cake using modelling chocolate. I didn't had Peeps so I made vanilla cookies and ice them to make the bunnies. As my boy was born in the year of rabbit (chinese horoscope), we had a bunny theme party. I even served those carrot crescent rolls you taught with egg salad for the kids and they loved it too. None was left for me. :(

    Here's the link for the cake:
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rLgXDDGSWn0&feature=bf_prev&list=ULwv_WHLwSfPE

    I enjoyed doing the cake and hope I can do more of these in future.

    Thanks again.

    Regards,
    Patsy

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    1. Hi Patsy,

      Your cake is amazing. The bunny cookies are perfect and so well decorated. I love all of the farm scenes you created and the popcorn trees and bushes look great. The train in the middle is a whimsical addition. I imagine that everyone that saw the cake just loved it. I'm glad everyone enjoyed the carrot crescent rolls. Too bad they didn't leave any for you, but I guess that means they really liked them. I hope you continue to find inspiration from my projects =)

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  26. You certainly SHOULD have won the $10,000 for your Peep scene. I can't fathom how a scene with Presiential Peeps would have won anything, let alone the grand prize. We demand a recount!

    After you mentioned the long shelf life of Peeps - I saved the Ms. Kitty Peeps I found at Easter.

    Your picket fence has me particularly intrigued. How did you cut and attach the slats? Each slat is identical. Looks like a tremendous amount of work, but the result is very effective.

    Popcorn trees have that wonderful 3-D effect & can be used year round. In the fall we could color the popcorn brown, gold & reddish. Thanks for mentioning the amount of chocolate need. 6 oz makes 5 trees that are how tall?

    Glad you're passing along the suggestion for everyone to recycle. Even plastic bags your newspaper comes in & styrofoam coffee cups can be returned to the grocery store recycle bins. One container says egg cartons - but hey, lots of other food comes in styrofoam also. They should teach recycling in elementary school. Make it a fun event - see how much you can think of to recycle.

    Tavette

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    1. Thanks for your vote! I sure would have loved to have won that grand prize. I've not every seen Ms. Kitty Peeps. I bet they are cute.

      To make my picket fence, I poured white chocolate out on a pan and smoothed it out. Before it set too hard I hand cut each fence post. It was quite a lot of work, but I loved how it looked. I did break a few while I was cutting.

      I thought about making fall trees this past November but ran out of time. i hope to find the time to make them this year. The trees were about 7 or 8 inches tall and some were quite wide.

      We recycle everything we possibly can. I'm proud when we put our garbage on the curb every week, that our recycle bin is three times as full as our garbage cans. I wish more people took recycling seriously. Some of my family and friends feel it is too much work to bother and I think that is sad.

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  27. I forgot to mention the Wright Brother plane with the Peep aviators. Your modeling chocolate sure can be use for a lot of things. The flying Peeps are too funny.

    Tavette

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    1. The airplane is actually made completely out of poured chocolate. Like with the fence posts I poured out a thin layer of chocolate on a pan then cut out all the pieces. It would have been much easier to create out of modeling chocolate! I wish I would have thought of that back then:)

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  28. love the idea. perfect for the birthday cake I'm making

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