You know what one of the hardest parts about writing a cook book is?  Not sharing every new amazing recipe we come up with here on the blog.  I couldn’t resist with this one, and technically I’m not giving away all of the surprises because this is actually just a little variation of one of our new Valentine recipes in our next book (did we mention it’s themed by season?)  One of my favorite flavor combinations is cinnamon and chocolate.  I pretty much have had daily cravings for the chocolate covered cinnamon bears from the BYU book store every day for the past 8 years.  No joke.  They are the BEST.  So I set out to make a munchable-sharable-irresistible treat with those same flavors.

I’m a huge fan of red hots.  I personally think they’re totally unappreciated.  Usually people only buy them for specific recipes or craft projects, but I buy them to eat.  Seriously folks; red hots are awesome.   So take your candies and put them in a ziplock bag.  Whack them with a meal mallet, or a hammer, or something heavy to smash them up.

You could pop them in a food processor too, but just be careful not to pulverize them.  You don’t want them ground, you want them roughly chopped, like this:


Melt a pound of almond bark in a mixing bowl and then add the red hots.

Now, we use almond bark a lot and every time we do we get a million questions so let me just answer them right now.

1.  You generally find it in the baking aisle near the chocolate chips.  Often on the very top or very bottom shelf.  During holidays it’s often on the endcaps.  If you can’t find it, ask someone who works there.  It’s sold in a rectangular block.

2.  Almond bark does not involve nuts.  So you really don’t need to tell me you’re allergic.  It has no nuts and no nut products.  It’s just a vanilla flavored candy, much like white chocolate.

3.  But it also doesn’t involve chocolate, so you can be allergic to that too.  It’s basically like fake white chocolate.

4.  You are welcome to experiment with actual white chocolate instead (someone always asks) but I cannot guarantee anything; it gets tricky.  Almond bark is incredibly easy to work with, it coats well, takes mix-ins well, and it tastes yummy, so that’s why we use it.  Cook at your own risk.

Okie-dokie, let’s move on!

After the red hots go in, break up the oreos. You can lightly crush them in the ziplock bag, or a quick pulse in the food processor, but I prefer to just break them up by hand because you want to leave some chunks in there.  They’ll break up more when you stir it up.

Give everything a stir

until it’s incorporated.

Then add in a little cinnamon oil.  You can use extract, but be aware that like in our Peppermint Bark Popcorn, it can cause the mixture to seize. It’s actually not a huge problem, it just looks scary.  If it turns clumpy just pour it on the popcorn real fast and mix it all up.   Cinnamon oil on the other hand will stay nice and smooth and mix right in so if you can, use it over extract. You can find oils at kitchen supply stores, or at craft stores near the candy making supplies, or certainly online.  Here in Boise, I buy it at my Albertson’s.  All that being said, you can leave out the oil and extract entirely.  I just love cinnamon so I like the extra pop of flavor, but I’m sure this would still be yummy without it, and maybe some of you would like it more mild anyway!

Once the mixture is poured on the popcorn and stirred well to coat it all, spread out the popcorn on a big cookie sheet that’s been lined with foil, parchment, or a silicone baking mat.  Melt your chocolate- and we’re just using a little bit here.  I didn’t want the chocolate to overwhelm the flavors, just compliment it.  I usually put my chips in a ziplock bag and melt them in the microwave.  Then just cut off the corner and squeeze the chocolate on.

After that, give everything a light sprinkle of kosher or sea salt.  It balances out the flavor really well.

Then you’ll want to let the chocolate harden completely.  I usually pop the pan in the fridge, or outside on a cold day to help it along.

When it’s all hardened, break it up into pieces and  you’re good to go.

It’s SO yummy and different and perfectly Valentine-y.  You get the sweet almond bark and the crunch from the red hots and the cookies just crumble in your mouth.  I dare you not to eat it all.


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Cinnamon Cookie Crunch Popcorn from Our Best Bites

Annnnd, here’s a little preview of what’s comin’ tomorrow.  I made a whole set of printables because this is perfect for giving!  Valentine Tin Can Treats, cellophane bag toppers and mini labels.  Come back tomorrow for the download!

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62comments

  1. 1
    Patti says:

    Hurray, January’s month of healthy recipes (minus 2) is over! Bring on the fun Valentine everything! By the way, Saturday is almost here!

  2. 2
    Mark Petersen says:

    Do double stuff Oreos work better in any way?

    • 2.1
      sara says:

      No, for this recipe regular Oreos are actually better since it’s the cookie part we’re after and not the filling. That’s not to say it would be bad with double stuff though :)

  3. 3

    Dang! How do you guys come up with these?!?! Yum! I don’t ever buy red hots to munch on, but I am a big fan of Hot Tamales and Cinnamon Bears. This sounds yummy – what a great combination! I’m adding red hots and almond bark to my grocery list. Oh, and cinnamon oil. :)

  4. 4
    Jessica says:

    I want to live inside your head! This is awesome!

  5. 5
    Kim says:

    So cute. Looks yummy! And super excited to hear that your next cookbook is holiday themed!!!

  6. 6
    Perdita says:

    In the UK we call Almond Bark (as far as I can tell) white cooking chocolate/cake covering (fake white chocolate with easier melting qualities).

    But, I don’t think we have anything to use for the ‘red hots’. What is the texture and flavour, please? I bet we have something I could use instead in the shops, with a different name. Thanks!

    • 6.1
      sara says:

      red hots are little cinnamon flavored candies. They’re hard, but not quite as hard as normal sugar candy- they turn kind of chewy when they start melting in your mouth. Hope that helps!

    • 6.2
      @R says:

      Wilton calls them vanilla candy melts (which may be trademarked), I’ve also heard it called vanilla candy coating. In my store’s bulk section, the almond bark does have almonds in it (in either white, milk or dark chocolate), and is next to the ‘white chocolate flavored wafers’, which is what I’d use for this recipe.

  7. 7
    Ellie says:

    Can you tell me the difference between kosher salt, sea salt, and regular table salt? When you call for kosher or sea salt do you mean the big chunks or do you grind it? Do they give different flavors?

    Also — amazing recipe! We just got a letter from our school saying that the kids aren’t supposed to take any candy or treats with their valentines. How boring is that?!

    • 7.1
      sara says:

      Ellie- Read this and then let me know if you have any questions-
      http://www.ourbestbites.com/2010/01/all-about-salt/

      And that’s super LAME about your Valentines!

      • Ellie says:

        I should have looked for that first. Thanks.

        And yes, it is lame about our Valentines. We aren’t allowed to take treats for birthdays, either. Although that’s kind of ok with me because we have 6 birthdays in 6 weeks and that was A LOT of cupcakes to make when I was taking them to each of the classes and then making a cake for our family celebration and either another cake or cupcakes for their birthday party. Now I send in something they can use during recess as a gift from the birthday girl to the class and that is super easy. More than you wanted to know! :-)

  8. 8

    I’m so glad there is someone besides me who just likes to eat red hots any old day of the year! They are a constant staple in my panty. This popcorn mix looks wonderful; I’m definitely trying it ASAP. Thanks for another great recipe!

  9. 9
    Tracy Lawson says:

    I’m thinking that this has to be absolutely wonderful and what a different twist with cinnamon and popcorn, this is a must try very soon recipe!!!!

  10. 10

    How in the world do you ladies do it? Seriously. How do you come up with such awesome ideas?

  11. 11
    brenda says:

    I want to make this for my kids to take for their valentines party. But I would have to have cinnamon oil shipped don’t know that I would get it in time. I live in Mccall, ID. Small town, not much to choose from in the stores here.

    • 11.1
      sara says:

      Brenda, I LOVE McCall! We actually have a home there, I’m up there all the time! You can totally make it without the cinnamon oil. You could try it with a little cinnamon extract (maybe test a little before you do) or just leave it out entirely and it would still be yummy :)

  12. 12
    Jaime says:

    This looks awesome! I love all of your popcorn recipes. Who am I kidding, I love all of your recipes, period! And thank you for your disclaimers about almond bark! People are always sooooo confused when I mention it–does it have nuts, I’m allergic to chocolate, etc.!

  13. 13

    This sounds DELICIOUS! I am always amazed at the ideas you guys come up with!

  14. 14
    Krista says:

    I recently experimented with a variation off your recipe from December. I did almond extract, whole almonds and almond bark and sprinkled with cinnamon. Enjoyed, but I now need to try this one. It looks so yummy!

  15. 15
    meredith says:

    What a fantastic idea to sprinkle sea salt on at the end … Genius!! And for some reason I have several bags of red-hots … don’t know how that happens??!

  16. 16
    Nan says:

    You are soooo right about the chocolate covered cinnamon bears at the BYU Bookstore! They are dangerously delish. They = celebration! I am sure that this popcorn will not disappoint either. Thanks for all your hard work on this blog, by the way. You add spice to my cooking life! I use one of your recipes at least 3 times a week. Hooray for Our Best Bites!

  17. 17
    Sara says:

    This looks so fun! I was going to do your pie in a jar, but was nervous about it, for my sons’ teachers, but this looks amazing!

  18. 18
    erika says:

    Chocolate covered cinnamon bears were the first thing I did after coming out of the testing center. And Mars bar fudge. Oh to have a Byu bookstore in south Texas! I will be making this popcorn for my valentines this year, thanks!

  19. 19
    Rachel says:

    This looks so nice. And I just want to thank you for the smoothie recipe the other day. My husband and I are working on losing weight and have been drinking it almost daily. I feel great and he looks great!!!!

  20. 20

    I am in love with this popcorn!

  21. 21
    Theresa says:

    Wow, I think you could soon do a small cookbook with “Popcorn Only” recipes. I’ve used the cinnabon and peppermint chocolate recipes; both turned out great and were greatly appreciated by my neighbors at Christmas. Even more amazing, one of my neighbors did the same thing so I got some back to munch.

  22. 22
    Mary says:

    Cinnamon bears are so beautiful. I didn’t know there were other people like me out there. I knew I’d like this recipe before I even read it.

  23. 23
    meredith says:

    Any idea how many of those mini oreo’s in the bag would equal 10 regular?
    I have bags of those and they crush super easily … In fact most of the time they come crushed :-)

  24. 24
    Holly says:

    I love your blog and all your recipes. However, because of the disease that my boy’s have we don’t eat gluten or dairy. I can substitute and get away with a lot (including soy chocolate); however, almond bark and white chocolate are seriously the only thing that I can’t substitute. How sad is that—so for us that leaves out the popcorn. But oh, boy, someday when I don’t have to worry about my boys (which let’s face it, will never happen)–I’m all over this.

  25. 25
    Meg says:

    White chocolate works like a dream in popcorn recipes. I have a candy cane popcorn and even though it’s more expensive, I buy real whit choc and just melt it on medium power, a minute at a time in the microwave. It tastes so much better than almond bark, in my opinion and the real reason I do it is because of the hydrogenated oil. I am no health nut but I have been trying to stay away from hydrogenated oil. I think one of the first few ingredients in almond bark is hydrogenated oil. It’s worth it for me to buy real whit chocolate….plus if you can get it at a place like orson gygi in a large brick, it may not be that much more than the almond bark. Also, I too am a fan of choc covered cinnamon bears….try dipping your own. I did when I was making Oreo truffles this year…to use up the leftover chocolate, I bought cinnamon santas and dipped the lower half of them in chocolate then set them on wax paper to dry…..so yummy. Thanks for an awesome post! I can’t wait to try it.

  26. 26
    marya says:

    any ideas how far in advance you can make these without the popcorn getting stale?

  27. 27
    Kristin says:

    You can find chocolate covered cinnamon bears at Winco in their bulk foods. And they’re always fresh. I’m so excited to try this recipe.

  28. 28
    Jamy Bailey says:

    Where’d you get those heart napkins? I’m trying to slowly accumulate things for Valentine’s day this year!

  29. 29

    Okay, so where do you buy a big bag of red hots? I went to Wal-mart and the only ones I could find were with the food coloring in the little sprinkles bottles? I looked on the candy and seasonal aisle to.

    • 29.1
      sara says:

      I just bought them at my local Albertsons in the Valentine candy aisle. Normally stores carry them year round in the candy aisle as well.

    • 29.2
      Erica says:

      Check the candy isle at Walmart. The have them in movie type candy box for $1. Am I making any sense?

  30. 30
    Cherish says:

    Hi! I made the peppermint bark popcorn not to long ago and found that coating the popcorn in the almond bark made my popcorn loose its crunch and I would drescribe it soggy more than anything. It had good flaver but the texture made it gross after it cooled and everything. Did I miss a step or do something wrong? Thanks!

  31. 31
    Pam V says:

    Weird but I could not find red hots in Target! They did have Duff’s red hot sprinkles for much more $$ so that’s what I went for. I’ll go to another store and stock up on red hots for my next batch.

  32. 32
    Michelle B. says:

    Yum! Yum! Just finished making this for my visiting teaching gifts for the month……and I just might have to take something else so I can keep this all for me! SO GOOD!!!! There goes my resolution to lose weight! :) LOVE IT! Thanks!

  33. 33
    linda says:

    Our family loved this! We ate the whole batch this weekend and I will be making another batch with the tags you have posted. I love your web site, love your cookbook and can not wait for the second cookbook to come out! You guys are awesome and I am so grateful you share all the ideas you come up with, it makes my life easier. You are two of my favorite people! Thanks for sharing!

  34. 34
    Ruth Ann says:

    You guys are so so so talented!! and darling-i heard you speak at timeout for women in Layton, feb.4th, it was awesome. Thanks for helping me not feel so inadequate,yet when i look at your blog i still do…plus most of my kids are grown up. How do you do it all??? You are amazing and talented! Thanks for sharing.

  35. 35
    Lyndee says:

    How far in advance would it be okay to make this? Does it hold pretty well?
    Besides the fact I already ate 1 batch haha I have to make some for the family valentine!

  36. 36
    kat says:

    How long do these last? Can I make them on Sunday and will they still be good to give away on Tuesday morning?

  37. 37
    Libby says:

    Sara, can you use air-popped popcorn? I had to buy some off label red hots from the Dollar Tree after visiting Walmart, Target and Publix, without success. Hope they will be ok…

  38. 38
    kat says:

    can you use quick candy if you can’t find almond bark?

  39. 39
    linda says:

    I forgot, also had a small problemo with the choc chips. How did you melt yours. I had to try that twice. The first time, they “dried” out, so the second time i heated approx 15 seconds, squished the bag and tried to “string” it over the popcorn mix, it went OK, but i could’a done it better i feel, thanks again

  40. 40
    Adri says:

    Loved making this! I also tossed in some valentines colored M and Ms (no ampersand on my iPad) just for looks and it was darling! Thanks so much!

  41. 41
    Karen says:

    I’m in Germany and could not find almond bark so I used white chocolate and it worked just fine.

  42. 42
    Lucy says:

    I sooooooooo wish i didn’t have strep throat right now!

  43. 43
    Lucy says:

    I love all of your recipes!

  44. 44
    Karri says:

    I made this, eliminating the cinnamon oil and substituting pretzel M&Ms for the Oreos. DELICIOUS!

    • 44.1
      Karri says:

      I also used 2 semi-sweet chocolate squares in place of the chips. They melted in the ziploc back in the microwave perfectly.

  45. 45
    Bonnie T says:

    Hi Sara, I don’t know if you check old posts’ comments, but I love the chocolate covered cinnamon bears too! I discovered them at Winco in the bulk bins and they are softer than the Bookstore’s I think. You have Winco in Idaho right? Just wanted to share that with you :0) Thanks for all you do!

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