Now that it’s December, I feel less weird drinking holiday drinks at Starbucks, sucking on candy canes, wearing my Santa hat and humming Ave Maria, my favorite holiday song. But I’m most excited about baking festive holiday treats, including one of my all-time favorite party snacks, popcorn cake. (It sounds weird, but don’t judge. Lots of things sound weird and are delicious, like spotted dick, a traditional English pudding.) The popcorn cake recipe comes from Emeril Lagasse, the porky, red-faced chef of “BAM!” fame. It requires minimum effort but yields maximum delight. And you don’t even need an oven to make it, just a pot and source of heat (hot plate, Bunsen burner, torch).

Emeril Lagasse’s Popcorn Cake


2 teaspoons plus 1/4 cup vegetable oil

12 cups popped popcorn (plain, unsalted and unbuttered)

2 cups M&M candies (try green and red for a holiday feel)

1 cup lightly salted cocktail peanuts

1 stick unsalted butter

1 pound marshmallows


Grease a large tube or bundt cake pan with 2 teaspoons of the oil, and set aside.

In a large bowl, mix the popped corn with the M&M candies and the peanuts.

In a small saucepan, melt the butter, remaining 1/4 cup of oil and marshmallows over medium-low heat, stirring occasionally. When melted, pour over the popcorn mixture, and stir to combine. Pour into the prepared cake pan, pressing down to fit. Cover with aluminum foil to keep moist and let rest until firm, 3 to 4 hours.

To serve, invert the cake pan onto a large cake plate or platter. Shake gently to release. Serve at room temperature.