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Hot Cocoa Popcorn with Marshmallow Bits

I love curling up with a mug of hot cocoa in the winter. I love curling up with a bowl of popcorn whenever I don’t feel like eating a full dinner. Combine both and you’ve got a winner.

Hot cocoa popcorn is my latest snack meal obsession.

It’s just sweet enough, crunchy enough, and elegant enough to feel super special for the holidays—and will give me something to look forward to in the winter months to come.

hot cocoa popcorn with marshmallow bits
Photo: Casey Barber

Why am I so in love with my specific version of hot cocoa popcorn? It’s a combination of factors:

  • Instead of coating the popped corn with a melted chocolate drizzle, I made a powdered hot cocoa blend. This keeps things light and snacky rather than heavy and dessert-like.
  • I use my kettle corn method for coating each popcorn kernel with a thin and crispy sugar coating, to which the hot cocoa blend adheres. The result is a little bit of sugary crunch with each bite. Again, we’re keeping it addictively light.
hot cocoa popcorn with marshmallow bits
Photo: Casey Barber
  • Finally, I gild the lily with marshmallow bits. No, not mini marshmallows. Marshmallow bits—the extra-small, chewy-crunchy kind you might find in packets of cocoa mix or in kid-marketed cereals of yore.

The slight crunch of the marshmallow bits paired with the crispy cocoa-coated popcorn bits is a truly stellar textural match, in my humble recipe developer opinion.

And for that reason, I highly recommend grabbing yourself a bag of marshmallow bits for this recipe. You can find them through various retailers online.

hot cocoa popcorn with marshmallow bits
Photo: Casey Barber

(Yes, I own a 16-ounce bag from nuts.com, but there are less-committed sizes out there too.)

I suggest adding 1 cup to the hot cocoa popcorn, but if you want to add more marshmallows, I am fully in favor of this. If you want to make it 50 percent popcorn and 50 percent marshmallows, no one can stop you!

If you would rather use regular mini marshmallows here, that’s totally fine too. The squishy mallows will bring a different textural effect to the popcorn party, but it’s your party.

Hot cocoa popcorn is a comfort food first and foremost, so go with the marshmallow add-in that speaks to your heart. And stomach.

My favorite method for making popcorn:

As I’ve mentioned on multiple occasions, I am convinced that the Whirley Pop popcorn maker is the best piece of equipment for making stovetop popcorn.

Believe me, Whirley Pop is not paying me to say this. (Though I would happily travel the country as a spokesperson for their excellent product! In a popcornmobile, maybe? Can we make this happen?)

hot cocoa popcorn with marshmallow bits
Photo: Casey Barber

It’s one more piece of equipment to keep in your kitchen, but once you start making popcorn at home, you’ll see its value.

There’s no shaking of a heavy pan, no waiting to hear the test kernels pop.

You just dump the oil and popcorn in and start stirring. You’ll be rewarded with the fluffiest, most perfect popcorn ever.

hot cocoa popcorn with marshmallow bits

And a note on making kettle corn:

Heating the sugar with the kernels to make kettle corn means you are going to have veryhot and sticky popcorn when it’s done.

You must work quickly to get the cocoa blend onto the popcorn before the stickiness turns to crunchiness, so stir stir stir, but be careful not to burn yourself.

hot cocoa popcorn with marshmallow bits

Hot Cocoa Popcorn with Marshmallow Bits

Yield: 4 servings
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 10 minutes
Total Time: 15 minutes

Hot cocoa popcorn is a crispy-crunchy kettle corn snack that tastes just like a mug hot cocoa. It's light, sweet, and perfect for winter nights. Marshmallow bits make it extra special.

Ingredients

Hot Cocoa Blend

  • 2 tablespoons (10 grams) cocoa powder
  • 2 tablespoons (25 grams) granulated sugar
  • 1 tablespoon + 1 teaspoon (6 grams) dry milk powder

Popcorn

  • 6 tablespoons (75 grams) granulated sugar
  • 1 tablespoon coconut oil, canola oil, or vegetable oil
  • 1/2 cup (4 ounces; 113 grams) popcorn kernels

Add-Ins

  • 1 cup marshmallow bits or 2 cups mini marshmallows (at least)

Instructions

Make the hot cocoa blend:

  1. Whisk the cocoa powder, sugar, and milk powder together in a bowl. Set aside.

If using a deep pot, such as a Dutch oven or stockpot:

  1. Make sure your sugar is at the ready in a small bowl.
  2. Add the oil and 3 kernels of corn to the pot, cover, and place over medium-high heat.
  3. Heat without touching the pan until you hear the kernels start to pop.
  4. Uncover and add the remaining kernels and the sugar.
  5. Re-cover and continue to heat, shaking continuously and vigorously as the kernels pop.
  6. Remove from the heat once the popping slows, and continue to shake until the popping stops.

If using a Whirley Pop:

  1. Make sure your sugar is at the ready in a small bowl.
  2. Add the oil and all the kernels to the Whirley Pop and place over medium-high heat.
  3. Stir continuously until you hear one or two kernels pop.
  4. Open the lid and quickly pour in the sugar.
  5. Close and stir vigorously! like a madwoman! until all the kernels are popping.
  6. Remove from the heat once the popping slows, and stir until the popping stops.

Put it all together:

  1. Working very quickly, pour the kettle corn into a large bowl and stir in the hot cocoa blend and marshmallows until the popcorn is evenly coated.
  2. If you want to add more marshmallows, I am fully in favor of this. If you want to make it 50 percent popcorn and 50 percent marshmallows, no one can stop you!

Recommended Products

As an Amazon Associate and member of other affiliate programs, I earn from qualifying purchases.

Nutrition Information:
Yield: 4 Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 274Total Fat: 12gSaturated Fat: 4gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 7gCholesterol: 5mgSodium: 59mgCarbohydrates: 42gFiber: 0gSugar: 33gProtein: 3g

The nutritional information above is computer-generated and only an estimate.

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