Caramelizing white chocolate takes an often overly sweet product to something other worldly. Caramelizing white chocolate involves heating it continuously in an oven on a low-ish heat and stirring every 5 to 10 minutes. After a bit, it takes on a warm caramelly butterscotch color.
The idea of making popcorn with white chocolate and New Mexican red chile powder came from the now executive director of Cooking with Kids (a non profit in NM that I used to work at), Anna Farrier. Every year around the holidays she would make large bags of popcorn to give to the staff in the cafeteria at the elementary schools we worked at. This is one of her over the top delicious creations.
New Mexico is big on chile – green and red. Each has their own personality. Red is earthy and rich, green is brighter and lighter. In order to make red chile sauce – for enchiladas, to dip in tamales, just to eat with fresh flour tortillas, you can use dried red chiles or red chile powder, or the pre made frozen red chile from Bueno foods. This popcorn incorporates red chile powder – and quite a bit of it to balance out the sweetness and richness of the white chocolate. Your world will be forever changed once you try this. And if you can’t find New Mexican red chile powder, substitute any red chile powder.
Directions on how to caramelize the white chocolate can be found here.
Caramelized White Chocolate Red Chile Popcorn
- 8 ounces caramelized white chocolate, see link above for instructions
- 1/2 cup popcorn kernels
- 1 tablespoon butter
- 2 teaspoons red chile powder
- Preheat oven to 200 degrees F.
- Pop popcorn using the Whirly Pop (I highly recommend) or in pan on stovetop. Alternately you could use about 10 to 15 cups of popped popcorn. Place popcorn in a very large bowl or two medium bowls.
- Over a saucepan simmering with 1 inch of water, place bowl with chopped white chocolate and 1 tablespoon butter. Stir until melted.
- Pour over white chocolate over popcorn and immediately toss popcorn with two wooden spoons or hands covered with heat proof gloves.
- Add in chile powder and salt and toss again. Dump onto lined baking sheet and bake for about half an hour until nice and crisp.