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THE NIBBLE BLOG: Products, Recipes & Trends In Specialty Foods
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RECIPE: Pumpkin Spice Popcorn

October is National Popcorn Poppin’ Month.

It’s also The Nibble’s unofficial holiday, Pumpkin Spice Month.

We’re very fond of this Maple Pumpkin Spice Pecan Popcorn recipe.

But here’s something simpler, Pumpkin Spice Popcorn that uses ingredients you already have in your kitchen.

It’s a sweet treat, with the added benefit of lots of fiber from whole-grain popcorn (the benefits of whole grains).

And it’s gluten-free!

In addition to out-of-the-bowl, you can use this sweet popcorn:

  • As a general dessert garnish.
  • Atop cakes or cupcakes.
  • With hot chocolate.
  • On oatmeal, instead of sugar.
  • With a Pumpkin Spice Latte, of course!
    Ingredients For 8 Cups

  • 8 cups of popped corn
  • 1/3 cup butter
  • 3 tablespoons sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • Pinch of ground ginger

    1. PLACE the popped corn into large bowl. Melt the butter and add sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg and ginger. Stir until the sugar is dissolved.

    2. DRIZZLE over the popcorn and toss until well coated.

  • Candy Corn Popcorn Balls
  • Cranberry & Chocolate Spiced Popcorn
  • Chocolate-Cranberry Popcorn Bark With Toffee
  • Cranberry-Orange Popcorn Balls
  • Halloween Witch Popcorn Balls
  • Sage Popcorn

  • Alternative Popcorn Uses
  • Popcorn Garnishes, Savory & Sweet


    [1] Whip up some pumpkin spice popcorn and put on a movie (photo © Popcorn Board).

    [2] How old is your cinnamon? Give it a sniff: If it isn’t redolent of spicy cinnamon aroma, it may be time to buy a new jar (photo © McCormick).

    [3] We prefer to grate nutmeg each time we need some, in order to get the brightest nutmeg flavor. Buy some nuts (that’s why it’s called nut-meg) and try it (photo © McCormick).




    TIP OF THE DAY: Halloween Cheeses For True Cheese Lovers

    [1] This gouda from Basiron in Holland is infused with pesto. Get it at iGourmet (photo © iGourmet).

    [2] Coupole, from Vermont Creamery, is one of our favorite goat cheeses. The brain-like surface is caused by Geotrichum candidum, a fungus that colonizes nearly all fungal surface-ripened cheeses during the early stages of ripening. Here’s more about it. Get Coupole at Murray’s Cheese (photo © Murray’s Cheese).

    [3] Huntsman, from the U.K., the marriage of two British classics, Double Gloucester and Blue Stilton. Double Gloucester is comparable to the finest cheddar. The layer of blue cheese “veins” from the Stilton is creepy. Get Huntsman at iGourmet (photo © iGourmet).

    [4] If the Great Pumpkin were a cheese, it would be Mimolette. It’s from France but made in the tradition of Dutch Edam. You can find it at Murray’s Cheese (photo © Murray’s Cheese).

    [5] Basiron Goudas are the finest specialty Gouda cheeses from Holland: creamy Goudas with creative ingredients and colors—some 30 varieties! (photo © MAAZ Cheese B.V.).


    No trick, just treat:

    Put together a Halloween cheese plate and pop the cork on a bottle of wine or two.

    This selection of cheeses belong in your Halloween tasting.

    For dessert, a chocolate follow-up is the finale to your treat. Chocolate and cheese are a great pairing.

    Here are two ways to pair chocolate and cheese:

  • General Pairing Tips
  • Pairing Cheese, Chocolate & Tequila

    In addition to the cheeses highlighted in the photos, check out this article for spooky cheeses:

  • Basiron Pesto Rosso (photo #5—here’s more)
  • Cahill Farms Irish Cheddar
  • Coupole, The Brain Cheese (photo #2)
  • English Cheddar With Harissa
  • Huntsman Cheese (photo #3)
  • Mimolette (photo #4)
  • Pecorino With Chile Flakes
  • Saxonshire Cheese (here’s more)
  • Triple-Aged Gouda
  • Washed-Rind Cheeses
    Also consider:

  • Époisses, a seriously stinky cheese with a bright orange exterior*
  • A leaf-wrapped cheese, such as Valdeon blue cheese
    FOOD TRIVIA: A lover of cheese is a turophile (TOO-row-file).

    For your cheese plate condiments, consider:

  • Apples and Pears
  • Dates
  • Honey
  • Figs
  • Fig Jam or Pumpkin jam
  • Pumpkin Seeds
  • Sliced Baguette, Walnut-Raisin Bread and/or Fancy Crackers

    1. Start with a selection of frightful cheeses. If you’re not a goat cheese fan (maybe you’ve never had one as good as Vermont Creamery’s?), see the Halloween cheeses above for other suggestions.

    2. Set the tone with a dark cheese board. We love the “gravestone” look of a gray slate board (see photo #4).

    3. Add pairings such as dark olives (especially wrinkled ones), dark dried fruits (cherries, cranberries, raisins) and toasted pumpkin seeds. Slices of dark rye bread and crackers studded with dried fruit and seeds suit the scary season.

    4. Decorate with dried moss and these simple DIY ghostly maple leaves (or oak, or elm, etc.) from the wonderfully creative folks at Sweet Paul.

    5. Drip some honey (consider spicy honey!) over the edges for more creepiness. This works best with one board or platter that sits on top of a larger one, so the honey drip has a neat landing spot.

    6. Place the crackers and breads around the larger platter.

  • Cheese & Pretzel Broomsticks
  • Creepy Colored Cheeses
  • Jack O’Lantern Nacho Cheese Ball
  • Mummified Brie
  • Scream Cheese

    > The History Of Halloween

    > The History Of The Jack O’Lantern

    > The History Of Trick-Or Treating & Halloween Candy


    *Most washed-rind cheeses are pungent with a “spooky” orange rind. The color (orange to ruby red), texture and aroma are caused by the bacterium Brevibacterium linens. Époisses is the most famous example, but there are many delicious options.




    RECIPE: Apple Cider Cocktail In A Fresh Apple

    We love the creativity and fun of this apple cider cocktail, served in a fresh apple.

    The recipe was developed by Eastern Standard Provisions, which sells the soft pretzels in the photo as well as the French Toast Sugar used for the rim.

    (Here’s our review of their yummy line of soft pretzels in classic and unusual shapes.)

    We like this apple cider cocktail with brunch or as an after-dinner drink or dessert substitute.

    The sweet sugar rim is satisfying instead of dessert, and of course, the apple should be eaten when the drink is gone.

    Don’t want a vanilla-cider cocktail? Here are some other options to use an apple cup:

  • Appletini.
  • Plain cider or hard cider.
  • Mulled cider, the venerable “cup of good cheer.”
  • Diet option: apple-flavored club soda.

    Ingredients For 6 Drinks

  • French Toast Sugar (from Eastern Standard Provisions, or substitute cinnamon sugar*)
  • 6 apples, hollowed†
  • 2 shots apple pie liqueur (substitute apple schnapps)
  • 2 shots vanilla vodka†
  • 1 cup unfiltered apple juice
  • 1/2 teaspoon allspice
  • Maple syrup to for sugar rim
  • Ice cubes
  • Optional garnish: cinnamon sticks

    1. POUR the French Toast Sugar onto a clean plate, and wet rim of the apple cups with maple syrup. Place the rim apple cup into the sugar and twist to coat the rim.

    2. FILL a shaker with ice, apple pie liqueur, vanilla vodka, apple juice and allspice. Shake well.

    3. POUR the cider cocktail into apple cups, garnish with cinnamon sticks, and enjoy!

    Cinnamon sticks and cassia sticks (here’s the difference; also see the photos) are pricey.

    We really don’t like using them because they’re a garnish that isn’t eaten; it just gets thrown away unless you know that you can wash and reuse them.

  • Simply rinse the cinnamon sticks under hot water, then pat dry and allow them to thoroughly dry on a paper towel.
  • When you’re ready to use them again, run a grater lightly over the surface to restore the flavor and aroma. You can do this 4 or 5 times before you need to discard the stick.
  • But wait: don’t throw it out just yet. Re-grate the surface to see if there’s any aroma left. If so, toss it into a bowl of potpourri, or at the bottom of your kitchen trash can.
  • Even if it no longer has aroma, it can still look snappy in a dish of potpourri.
    You can substitute star anise, or an orange orange peel curl, for the cinnamon‡‡ sticks.


    [1] An edible drinks glass: first drink up, then eat the apple (photos #1 and #2 and recipe © Eastern Standard Provisions).

    [2] Eastern Standard Provisions French Toast Sugar is one of several flavored sugars they sell to top pretzels (there are flavored salts, as well).

    Ambrosia Apples
    [3] Ambrosia apples are slow to brown (photo © Stemilt Growers).

    [4] Gala is another apple variety that is slow to brown. See the footnote† (photo © Good Eggs).


    *To make cinnamon sugar, thoroughly combine 1/2 cup granulated sugar and 2 tablespoons cinnamon. To approximate Eastern Provisions’ French Toast Sugar, use vanilla sugar instead of table sugar, and substitute 2 tablespoons of the vanilla sugar with 2 tablespoons of maple sugar.

    †Chose a red apple variety with low or no browning: Ambrosia, Cameo, Cortland, Empire, Gala. Here’s why apples turn brown.

    ‡ A substitute for vanilla vodka is 1 cup regular vodka and 1 teaspoon vanilla extract.

    ‡‡ You’re probably buying cassia, not real cinnamon. Check out the difference.



    GLOBAL CHAMPAGNE DAY: Champagne Tips

    This year, World Champagne Day will be celebrated on October 23rd. Plan ahead if you’re planning to celebrate!

    Although New Year’s Eve is more than two-and-a-half months away, we can’t object to another “official” occasion to drink champagne.

    First, an important thing to know: Champagne only refers to the sparkling wines of the Champagne region of France.

    Everything else, by law, is called “sparkling wine,” no matter where in the world it is produced.

    Champagne is made in seven styles, or levels, of sweetness. The first three, dry wines, are to be paired with savory foods.

    The last four are to be paired with sweeter dishes, from lobster thermidor to desserts. Read the footnote* for Extra Dry.

    The sweetness comes from a step in the secondary fermentation of Champagne, when the bubbles are created.

    The process is called dosage (doe-SAZH): a small amount of sugar is added into the wine bottles before they are corked. The sugar also reduces the tartness/acidity of the wine.

  • Primary fermentation of Champagne: In the classic méthode champenoise used to make Champagne, Cava and American sparkling wines, the primary, or alcoholic, fermentation of the wine transforms the grape must (the pressed juice of the grapes) into wine. Natural yeast consumes the natural grape sugars, producing alcohol and carbon dioxide.
  • Secondary fermentation of Champagne: To create a secondary fermentation, the dosage is added to the wine. The the added yeasts eat the added sugar, again creating alcohol and carbon dioxide.
    Based on the amount of sugar in the dosage, the seven levels of sweetness based on residual sugar (what’s left after the secondary fermentation) are:

  • Brut Nature/Brut Zero: 0-3 g/l* residual sugar
  • Extra Brut: 0-6 g/l residual sugar
  • Brut: 0-12 g/l residual sugar
  • Extra Dry†: 12-17 g/l residual sugar
  • Dry: 17-32 g/l RS residual sugar
  • Demi-Sec: 32-50 g/l residual sugar
  • Doux: 50+ g/l residual sugar

  • How Champagne Is Made
  • How To Buy Champagne
  • Low Cost Champagne & Other Sparkling Wines
  • Holiday Champagne Alternatives
  • Cava, Spanish Sparkling Wine
  • More Champagne Alternatives
  • Rosé Champagne Alternatives

  • How To Pour Champagne
  • Why You Need A Champagne Recorker
  • …Or A Champagne Cap
  • How To Chill Champagne Quickly

  • Bellini
  • Kir Royale
  • Make Your Own Cold Duck“>Make Your Own Cold Duck
  • Red & Green Champagne Cocktails
  • Rosé Champagne & Grapefruit Mimosa Cocktail

  • Appetizers With Champagne
  • Berries In Champagne
  • Champagne Jell-O Shots
  • Champagne & Oysters
  • Champagne & Turkey
  • Champagne & Sorbet
  • Champagne Vinaigrette
  • Champagne With Chocolate
  • Drunken Fruit
  • Rosé Champagne With Turkey
  • Sorbet Champagne Desserts


    Moet Gold Bottle
    [1] During the holiday season, you can find bottles with special packaging. Stock up for gifting occasions throughout the year (photo © Moet et Chandon).

    Champagne  Bottle Top
    [2] Only wines grown and made in the Champagne region of France can be legally called Champagne. Everything else is “sparkling wine” (photo © Champagne Bureau).

    Champagne Flute
    [3] The ideal glass to showcase champagne is the flute (photo © American Club Resort).

    Rose Champagne
    [4] Rose champagne gets its color from allowing the just-pressed use “skin contact” with the red grape skins from which it is pressed. “Pink champagne” is an inexpensive product with color added (photo © Rocky Slims | NYC [permanently closed]).



    *It’s a paradox in the Champagne industry that “dry” indicates a sweeter wine; as do sec (which means dry in French) and demi-sec. Doux, the sweetest style of Champagne, does mean sweet.

    †Grams per liter.



    RECIPE: Cream Cheese Icing (Frosting) For National Chocolate Cupcake Day

    [1] This cream cheese frosting adds sour cream for a nuance of flavor and more spreadability (photo and recipe © American Heritage Chocolate).

    [2] Whether you like the name brand, store brand, or organic cream cheese, you need a block of it (photo © Bay Business Help).

    Sour Cream
    [3] A bit of sour cream creates a variation of the classic recipe (photo © Wisconsin Milk Marketing Board).


    October 18th is National Chocolate Cupcake Day.

    We’ve been using this classic cream cheese icing recipe on our chocolate cupcakes for years.

    But we recently received this recipe to try from American Heritage Chocolate.

    It adds sour cream to the cream cheese, which cuts the sweetness and adds a barely-discernible hint of tartness.

    We prefer cream cheese icing to buttercream, and always use it on cupcakes, carrot cakes and other loaf cakes.

    So is this recipe frosting or icing?

    The difference between frosting and icing is that:

  • Icing is made with confectioners’ sugar (also called icing sugar and 10x sugar), as in this recipe.
  • Frosting is made from granulated sugar (table sugar).
    But the two words are used interchangeably by those not aware of this nuance.

    Prep time is 10 minutes.

    We used it on our dark chocolate cupcakes recipe.
    Ingredients For 3 Cups

  • 1 block (8 ounces) plain cream cheese, room temperature
  • ½ cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • ¼ cup sour cream
  • Coarse salt (sea salt, kosher salt)
  • 2½ cups confectioners’ sugar

    1. CREAM together the cream cheese, butter, sour cream and a pinch of salt on medium speed of an electric mixer, until light and fluffy (approximately 2 minutes).

    2. ADD the confectioners’ sugar. ½ cup at a time, stopping the mixer and scraping down the bowl before each addition. Gradually increase the speed to medium after each addition of sugar. That’s it!

    3. STORE in an airtight container in the refrigerator up to 5 days, if not using immediately. Bring to room temperature before using.





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