We always look forward to the Christmas and Hanukkah holiday season. Not only is it our busiest time of the year, but it provides the ideal opportunity to create new CrunchDaddy Popcorn flavors for you and your family to enjoy. For 2015, we’re thrilled to introduce what will become a perennial holiday classic in our lineup: Gingerbread Cookie Crunch.
There’s a story behind every CrunchDaddy flavor, and the inspiration for Gingerbread Cookie Crunch goes back to my childhood days growing up in Bowie, Maryland. The Christmas cookies that my mother, sisters and grandmothers made were something that everyone looked forward to. Evenings spent decorating trays of gingerbread cookies with my mother and siblings were unforgettable.
We were blessed not only to have a family who baked well, but also a dearly beloved neighbor across the street, Ms. Ginny, who generously shared the bounty of her kitchen with us throughout the year. Ms. Ginny is the kind of neighbor who would spontaneously appear at our door with a dish of hot southern green beans cooked with ham hocks… warm biscuits and homemade apple butter (to die for)… a fresh peach cobbler… snickerdoodle cookies… and at Christmas, her superb gingerbread men.
As much as I loved my mom’s gingerbread, there was something extra special about Ms. Ginny’s. When I grew old enough to bake my own cookies, I asked Ms. Ginny about her recipe… and why I enjoyed her gingerbread cookies above all others (with apologies to my dear mother!). The answer was simple: Ms. Ginny would substitute honey for the molasses in the typical recipe, either mostly or entirely. Molasses is dark, rich and strong, while honey is subtle and even flowery. I was never a fan of molasses (and I don’t use any in CrunchDaddy’s caramel popcorn flavors), so this recipe modification proved to be a bit of creative genius passed down through Ms. Ginny’s family tradition.
I’m also not a big fan of cloves, even though they are an important ingredient in the spice mix for gingerbread cookies. It was Ms. Ginny who taught me that it was perfectly fine to adjust the spices to my liking which, as a young boy, was a revelation to me.
It was those lessons from my childhood days that inspired me to create Gingerbread Cookie Crunch with a taste that would bear a striking resemblance to the Christmas gingerbread that we enjoyed on Heming Lane. I’m fond of reminding friends and fellow entrepreneurs that everything you’ve learned in life has prepared you for where you are now… and this is a humble reminder of that!
(On a side note… I also realized during the development of this recipe that my crazy workload during the holiday season leaves me no free time to spend in my home kitchen making Christmas cookies as I have in the past. Now I get to enjoy the smell of warm gingerbread cookies in my popcorn kitchen throughout the season! WOOT!)
Thus, CrunchDaddy’s Gingerbread Cookie Crunch starts with a caramel made with pure clover honey. We add a custom spice blend of ginger, cinnamon, nutmeg, allspice and cloves, but the clove content is muted. Lastly, we top the popcorn with a generous portion of minced candied ginger which adds an extra dimension of ginger and a slight chewy texture to savor. The result is more than just “gingerbread flavored popcorn,” but rather a stunningly accurate recreation of the gingerbread cookies that I loved as a boy.
During this season of Thanksgiving, I’m eternally grateful for the love and guidance provided by Ms. Ginny, as well as everyone who has helped me make CrunchDaddy Popcorn the best it can be. We hope you enjoy it in good health with the people you love!