I’ve mentioned this before, but I am not a fan of popcorn. Put all the butter and salt on it you want – it still tastes/feels like you’re eating styrofoam. Buttery, salty styrofoam. Pour some caramel sauce on it, though, and you’ve got a whole other story. I don’t know what happens, but sugary syrup + popcorn + oven time = crunchy, sweet magic. And then there’s chocolate-covered popcorn. Have you ever tried that? If not, you should, ASAP. It’s a little less crunchy than caramel corn, but just as tasty and addicting. Trust me when I say it’s impossible to have just one or two (handfuls…bowls…) of these things.
The first time I tasted chocolate covered popcorn was at my friend Amy’s bridal shower. There were bowls and bowls of this stuff all around the living room (which ended up being great for me). I thought they were chocolate covered nuts, so the first bite was a little disappointing. But, after swallowing that bite and realizing that it was incredibly delicious, I was all OMG what is this??? Popcorn? Chocolate? Popcorn coated in chocolate! Wait, this isn’t caramel corn, but I don’t feel like I’m eating styrofoam???? PASS ME THAT WHOLE BOWL, PLEASE. Obviously, I’ve been dying to make my own chocolate covered popcorn ever since. So when the good folks at Kallari reached out to me a few months ago about trying some of their organic, gourmet chocolates, I knew exactly what I would be making. If regular ol’ milk chocolate could transform popcorn into something delicious, wouldn’t it be even more amazing with rich, high quality dark chocolate? And what if that dark chocolate was melted onto crunchy caramel corn? Best thing ever? Too much of a good thing? I was willing to find out!
(I love the little leaf stamped into each square!)
To be honest, I’d never heard of Kallari until one of their representatives contacted me, but a quick Google search told me all I needed to know: (1) their minimally processed chocolate bars (available online or at Whole Foods and other specialty stores) are very popular, and (2) the company’s mission is a worthy one. The Kallari Association, which grows the cacao used in the bars and coordinates production of chocolate from their own beans, is formed by over 850 Kichwa families living in the Amazon rain forest region of Ecuador. All profits from chocolate sales are returned to the Kallari Association, which allows people in the area to earn a sustainable income. And, because most of the cacao farms are located in primary and secondary rainforest, in an area equal to less than 2% of the total territory of Ecuador, chocolate production does not come at the expense of natural resource conservation. For more information about Kallari and its mission, check out this New York Times article.
Worthy mission not withstanding, Kallari makes wonderful chocolate. I eat dark chocolate every day (usually 70-75%), and theirs is some of the best I’ve ever tasted. Not too bitter, and not at all intense/overpowering the way some dark chocolates are. I was provided samples of the 70%, 75%, and 85% cacao bars, and they were all wonderful – rich, earthy, and smooth. For my popcorn, I used the 75% and 85%, because I thought their darker flavor would be a nice compliment to the sweetness of the caramel. And it was – with the addition of melted dark chocolate (and just a dash of sea salt), my popcorn was all the things I hoped it to be: crunchy and sweet, with a depth of flavor that plain ol’ caramel corn could never have, and so, so hard to stop eating. Candied popcorn for dinner? Sure, why not. I highly recommend you give this recipe (and Kallari chocolates!) a try, ASAP.
- 2 bags popcorn, popped (I used Orville)
- 8 tablespoons butter
- 1 cup brown sugar
- 4 tablespoons light corn syrup
- 1 teaspoon salt
- ¼ teaspoon baking soda
- ½ teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- 1 75% cacao dark chocolate bar
- 1 85% cacao dark chocolate bar
- Sea salt
- Preheat oven to 250.
- Line a large baking sheet with aluminum foil; set aside.
- Place the popped popcorn in a large bowl; set aside.
- Melt butter in a small saucepan over medium-high heat.
- Add brown sugar, corn syrup, and salt; stir until it starts to boil.
- Let sugar mixture boil for about 2 minutes without stirring. (This will let it get nice and thick and caramel-y)
- Add baking soda and vanilla. Stir until thoroughly combined.
- Pour thickened caramel sauce over your popcorn. Use a spoon to toss and coat. (I found my caramel to be thicker/stickier than expected, so I recommend moving quickly; otherwise it will cool/harden, and it'll be impossible to coat your popcorn evenly.)
- Spread popcorn over prepared baking sheet
- Break candy bars into pieces and lay them randomly over your layer of popcorn.
- Bake for 30 minutes. Take the tray out around the halfway mark to flip/toss your popcorn with a spatula to evenly distribute the melted chocolate onto each piece.
- Remove, sprinkle with sea salt to taste and allow popcorn to cool completely.
Salted Dark Chocolate Caramel Corn (Slightly adapted from Diethood’s recipe)