Colored popcorn is a sweet treat that can be made in a variety of ways. The easiest, and most common, method of preparation involves the use of food coloring, sugar, and butter. More complex versions of colored popcorn can also be created using flavored gelatin and corn syrup.
For a quick and easy batch of colored popcorn, combine one cup (240 ml) granulated sugar and ¾ cup (175 ml) water in a small saucepan. Heat until the mixture is boiling, and sugar has dissolved. Add 3-5 drops food coloring of your choice, and stir for several seconds. Pour the colored sugar mixture over a bowl of microwave or air popped popcorn, and stir constantly until the kernels begin to separate.
To make colored popcorn with gelatin, the process is more involved, but will result in a gourmet style treat. First, pop four cups (950 ml) popcorn on the stove top, in the microwave, or in a popcorn maker, place in a large mixing bowl, and set aside. Line a large cookie sheet with aluminum foil or wax paper, and preheat the oven to 300 degrees F (150 degrees C).
Next, combine ¼ cup (60 ml) butter or margarine, and three tablespoons (45 ml) light corn syrup in a small sauce pan. Heat on low until the butter has completely melted, then add ½ cup (120 ml) granulated sugar and one 4-serving size package of flavored gelatin. Continue to stir until the gelatin has dissolved completely, then turn the heat up to medium and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low, and simmer the mixture for an additional five minutes.
Pour the gelatin and sugar mixture over the popcorn and toss, ensuring that all the kernels are coated thoroughly. Spread the colored popcorn onto the lined cookie sheet, and use a fork or other utensil to spread evenly. Bake the popcorn in the preheated oven for ten minutes, and then allow it to cool completely. Remove from the pan and break into small pieces. Store any leftovers in the refrigerator, if necessary.
Combine peanuts or miniature marshmallows with the popcorn before adding the gelatin mixture, for added flavor and texture. For a low fat version of colored popcorn, leave out the sugar, and use sugar-free gelatin. Brown sugar may also be used in place of granulated sugar, if desired, or you may use half brown sugar and half granulated sugar.