Mexican Chocolate & Red Chile Caramel Popcorn

Every winter holiday, friends and family look forward to receiving my homemade caramel popcorn.  It’s a tradition.  R gets tubs of richly flavored, lightly textured, crispy, out-of-this-world, melt in your mouth, agonizingly delicious caramel popcorn, and everyone else gets their candy caned striped bagful. Well, guess what?!  I’m tired of making the same popcorn year after year.  Time to spice things up!


  • 12-13 cups of popped popcorn
  • 1 stick of butter (½ cup)
  • 1 cup dark brown sugar
  • ¼ cup honey
  • ½ disc (4 wedges) of Mexican chocolate grated or powderized
  • 1 Tbsp of mild red chile powder*
  • 1 tsp rum (or vanilla)
  • ¼ tsp baking soda
  • dash of salt (to taste and optional)

*I use mild red Hatch chile powder- but you could use any red chile powder you prefer. If it’s hot, use less. If you’re not sure, add a pinch at a time until you’ve reached the desired flavor.


Preheat the oven at 200°F.

Line two cookie trays with parchment paper.

Directions for Popping Popcorn:

First of all, I always make my popcorn the old fashioned way- in a big pot on the stove.-old school, I know! My preferred kernels are the Extra Large Caramel Type Popcorn from Amish Country. This can be purchased through the Amish Country website or on Amazon. I’ve also seen this brand sold in gift sections at posh feed stores. When I run out of Amish Country, my go-to is Trader Joe’s Organic Popping Corn. The popcorn doesn’t come out as fluffy and light, but does the job just fine. Here’s my method for stove top popping:

Lightly coat the entire bottom of a large pot with olive oil.

Throw in a few kernels.

Heat the pot on high heat and wait for a few kernels to pop- this lets me know the temperature is right for popping.

Pour in enough kernels to cover the bottom of the pot in a single layer.

Cover the pot.

Using good potholders (not rags or dish towels- I’ve caught these on fire before!!), shake the pot back and forth keeping palms on the lid so it stays shut. The popping should begin shortly.

Keep shaking until the torrential popping slows down to a drizzling pop…pop…pop, pop…………..pop…………………I think you get it!

Voila, fresh popcorn!

Once you have your popcorn, however you decide to make it, scoop out 12-13 heaping cups of it into a huge bowl. You’ll need lots of room for mixing.

Set your bowl aside.


Save your extra popcorn for snacking! You can always add salt, spices, butter, etc. and enjoy now, or later.

Directions for the Good Stuff!:

In a saucepan on medium heat, melt the butter and whisk in the Mexican chocolate, brown sugar, and honey. Next, add the chile powder following the measurement directions from above. Remember to add to taste.


Keep stirring and bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer for a few minutes.

Whisk in the rum and baking soda. The mixture should puff up and turn lighter in color. I usually add a little extra splash of rum for buena suerte.

Immediately, pour the good stuff all over the popcorn. With a spatula, toss lightly until the popcorn is coated. Remember to scrape the bottom of the bowl to make sure all of the gooey goodness is mixed in.


Pour the popcorn between the two parchment lined cookie trays and spread out into even layers.


Place in the oven and cook for 60 minutes: Every 20 minutes, stir the popcorn around to prevent burning.

Cool the popcorn on cooling racks, or remove from the trays and let it cool on the parchment.

Stir the popcorn or break it up with your hands once it has cooled.- unless clumping is preferred!


There you have it- savory, subtly chocolaty caramel popcorn with a bite.  Es chingón!


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