‘Take Me to Family Movie Night’ Salted Dark Chocolate Popcorn

My family knew their way around the popcorn bowl when I was a kid. If we’d had the money to spare, we could have invested in Orville Redenbacher stock in an effort to break even from all the popcorn we put away in the evenings. We weren’t popcorn snobs by any means. Microwave popcorn was just as loved as the old school kind made in a pot on the stove from kernels and margarine. A few times Mom even threw down cash for stovetop Jiffy Pop, a futuristic popcorn product that made me imagine I was in an episode of The Jetsons.

One year, in an effort to save money and increase convenience, we invested in an air popcorn popper, which may or may not have been this West Bend “Stir Crazy” version. Popcorn mania ensued. Evening viewings of Police Academy 1-4, Airplane!, and Rodney Dangerfield’s Back to School will never taste as good as those nights my family passed around the bowl of well-salted and buttery airpopped popcorn.

I took a hiatus from popcorn munching when I headed off to college, but these days I’m back to popcorn snacking and on the hunt for flavorful ways to top homemade popcorn. I’ve gone to town on fancy, artisanal microwave popcorn that promises to not give me cancer like the more popular brands of my youth, but now that my husband’s gone mega-thrifty, I have a hard time justifying a $5 box of Quinn microwave popcorn when I can make my own on the stovetop. (If you want to splurge, though, Quinn’s Parmesan and Rosemary is THE BEST.)

Since returning to popcorn snacking, I’ve made many a pot of traditional salted butter popcorn. Last year I even tried my hand at a spicy, sweet sriracha-honey popcorn, but for my popcorn-loving readers who prefer sweet and salty over sweet heat, today I’ve got you covered.

Below you’ll find dark chocolate-topped salted popcorn that’s so addictive you’ll want to share the bounty to avoid a stomachache from wolfing down all six servings in one sitting. Buying popcorn kernels in bulk from your local grocery store is very inexpensive and will offset your purchase of quality dark chocolate for this recipe. I made a double batch over the weekend and stored leftovers out of sight in an airtight container, dipping in each evening to portion out a snack-size bag for morning and afternoon breaks at work.

Salted Dark Chocolate Popcorn
Image by author.

Salted Dark Chocolate Popcorn
(adapted from a Kitchn recipe)
Serves 6

Ingredients
– 2 TBS vegetable oil
– 2/3 cup popcorn kernels
– 8 oz good-quality dark chocolate, chopped (I used Ghirardelli Dark Chocolate Melting Wafers and will never go back to melting regular chocolate. It’s the best.)
– 1 1/4 tsp fine sea salt, divided

Directions
1. In a large pot, heat the oil and a few kernels of popcorn, covered, over medium heat until the kernels pop. Pour in remaining kernels, cover pot again, and shake to distribute. As the popcorn pops, shake pan occasionally and immediately remove from heat once the popping slows to 2-3 seconds between pops. (You’ll prevent the popcorn from burning.) Pour popcorn into a large bowl, removing unpopped or partially popped kernels. Be vigilant. I wound up with a few chocolate-covered kernels. Not easy on the teeth. And if you do have some burned popcorn, toss it out at this stage, too.

2. Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper and set aside. Place the chocolate and 3/4 tsp salt in a microwave-safe measuring cup or bowl. Heat in the microwave in 30-second increments until chocolate is very soft and becomes completely liquid when stirred gently. Immediately pour over the popcorn and stir to coat as thoroughly as possible. Spread evenly onto the baking sheet, and sprinkle with remaining 1/2 tsp salt. Let sit at room temperature until chocolate has hardened, about 1 hour.

If not eating immediately, be sure to store the finished popcorn in an airtight container so the popcorn stays crisp.

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