Sweet and Spicy Chipotle Kettle Corn

A.) It’s rainy.

B.) It’s chilly.

C.) My husband was on a business trip this week meaning that I parented our five boys solo.

D.) My husband got in from that business trip at 1:30 a.m. this morning.

E.) I’ve been canning like a maniac for weeks on end.

F.) I have a hole in my heart that was created by my utter lack of time to watch my favorite movies lately.

G.) I spent all of yesterday at the Angelica Farmer’s Market with the kids (who were selling their Mortar Men and Room & Linen Sprays) on what turned out to be, according to the market’s coordinator “…the slowest day we’ve ever actually had at the Farmer’s Market.”

H.) I wanted to prove that I am still capable of writing a post that doesn’t involve putting food in jars. Although, you really could actually put this into jars.  Just a thought.

There.  This is what I like to think of as front-loading with my excuses reasons behind this post. And now that I’ve been all efficient, I can go straight to the good stuff; Sweet and Spicy Chipotle Kettle Corn. I never really cared much for kettle corn because of an unfortunate incident as an exchange student in France*. I found it an affront to the great and noble salted and buttered popcorn of my youth. I viewed it as an anemic impersonation of caramel corn; food of the gods. And last, but certainly not least, I really, really REALLY didn’t like how very many times I had seen it written ‘kettle korn’.**

*I had been in France for about three months when struck with an incredible craving for crunchy popcorn. I stopped in the first Supermarché I could find and gasped audibly when I found a bag of fluffy white popcorn on the shelf.  I grabbed. I paid. I tore it open. I stuffed a fistful in my mouth.  I spit it out into a garbage can.  I was not emotionally prepared for popcorn to be totally sweet. White Cheddar or Salted? Yes. Sickly sweet?  Not so much.  And so my prejudice against any sweet popcorn that wasn’t caramel corn was born.

**Korn with a ‘K’? No way. That rubs ever CDO** bone in my body the wrong way.

***CDO: Obsessive Compulsive Disorder in alphabetical order. The way God intended.

But inspiration strikes at odd moments.  As The Evil Genius and his progeny sat on the couch watching the Little League World Series (El Salvador vs. Saudi Arabia) our eldest pined -pointedly- in my direction, “I sure could go for something sweet to munch.  Sigh.”  The Evil Genius mouthed the words “kettle corn” in my direction and accompanied it with his most charming world-domination smile.  Then they all started ululating.*

*Sorry for all the asides, but this one is one-hundred percent necessary. The guys saw a Saudi mother ululating when her son hit a home run. They’ve been ululating since.  It’s been two hours.  Send help. Now.

Since I was afraid they’d carry on ululating if I didn’t whip up a batch of kettle corn I hied me hence to the kitchen.  I planned on doing one batch of the dreaded kettle corn for them and one batch of my favorite; salted with nutritional yeast (don’t you DARE gag.  It’s delicious.  Even if it DOES contain something called ‘nutritional yeast’ which admittedly sounds like it would be served by a very serious health food adherent with no sense of humour whatsoever.) I made the kettle corn, poured it into a bowl and -in an act that I really can’t remember consciously deciding to perform- sprinkled a generous quantity of ground chipotle powder over the top. Um. Whoops?

No.  Not whoops.  Divine.  Sweet, smoky, spicy, salty and crisp; this stuff knocked off my socks. Color me converted. Well, to the Sweet and Spicy Chipotle Kettle Corn anyway. You can keep the other stuff. And I mean that in the nicest possible way.

I ended up making several more batches because it was eaten almost as fast as I could make it. The kids loved it.  The Evil Genius loved it.  I loved it. Score.

Now if you’ll pardon me.  I’m going to go grab my bowl and catch up on my movies.  Middle Earth, here I come!

For a printable version of this recipe minus the photos and rambling, click here!

Sweet and Spicy Chipotle Kettle Corn

Ingredients:

  • 3 Tablespoons canola oil
  • 1/4 cup of your favorite unpopped popcorn kernels (I love ladyfinger popcorn.  So small, so cute, so tasty!) + 3 extra kernels
  • 1/4 cup granulated white sugar
  • salt to taste (start around 1/4 teaspoon and work up from there.)
  • ground chipotle pepper powder to taste (start around 1/4 teaspoon and work up from there.)

Regular Pot Instructions:

In a large heavy-bottomed pan with a tight-fitting lid, heat the oil and the 3 extra kernels over medium high heat with the lid in place.  Shake the pan every 10 seconds.  When you hear the three kernels pop, act quickly (while wearing oven mitts.)  Dump in the 1/4 each of popcorn kernels and sugar.  Put the lid back on very quickly and start shaking in a circular motion. Listen to the popping of the kernels.  It should pick up in tempo until you can’t distinguish the popping of individual kernels.  Keep shaking the pan. After that it will gradually decrease. This is where you need to pay the most attention.  When the popping tapers off to the point where you hear a two to three second pause between pops, you need to pull the pan off the heat and empty it into a bowl very quickly.

Whirly Pop Instructions:

In a Whirly Pop pan, heat the oil and the 3 extra kernels over medium high heat with the lid in place.  Keep turning the Whirly Pop handle.  When you hear the three kernels pop, act quickly (while wearing oven mitts.)  Quickly open one side of the Whirly Pop and dump in the 1/4 each of popcorn kernels and sugar. Knock the lid back into place very quickly and start turning the handle. Listen to the popping of the kernels.  It should pick up in tempo until you can’t distinguish the popping of individual kernels.  Keep turning the handle. After that it will gradually decrease. This is where you need to pay the most attention.  When the popping tapers off to the point where you hear a two to three second pause between pops, you need to pull the pan off the heat and empty it into a bowl very quickly.

~~Now for the good stuff…

No matter which way you cook it, when you’ve emptied it into a large bowl, sprinkle with salt and chipotle powder to taste, toss and stir with a long wooden spoon.  You don’t want to stir by hand because that melted sugar seriously burns!  Let cool for a couple minutes and then dig in!  Kettle corn keeps well in a paper bag with the top folded down and crimped for a day or two at room temperature.


Comments

  1. says

    I’ve been a popcorn addict for the last few months — mainly just tossing it with truffle salt. But I like this variation and will give it a try. Must admit I’m a little scared about putting the sugar in the pot in the beginning, but I will trust you :)

    • Rebecca says

      Julia- Don’t be afraid, you just keep that pan moving! (But really, if you were adding the sugar before the oil was hot, that’d be much scarier.)

      Valerie- You could easily grind your own. I just happen to have a bottle of it made by Spice Islands. It was a gift and I think after tasting this popcorn I’m going to keep it stocked!

  2. says

    This cooks up so much quicker than I thought! By the time I thought, “Has it really stopped popping already?” I have already burned it a bit. No problem — dumped it out, added salt + chipotle powder, stirred it up, and served it to The Huz as a pre-dinner treat.

    I have chipotle powder from Penzey’s and it’s great. Very smoky.

  3. Rich says

    I’ce made kettle corn in my whirly popper for several years. The kids love it. I like the chipotle version for adults. For seasoning, try 2 tsp cumin and 1 tsp ground chipotle chili pepper.

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