chipotle carmel popcorn

December 19th, 2009 § 21

Sunday dinner in my family home was served at about 3 p.m. I used to think that this mid-afternoon suppertime was a novelty invented by my mother, either as a ploy to get us into bed earlier in the evening, or as a cook’s convenience – it made sense to slow-roast a pork loin while we were all in church for a few hours. And it was a wonderful smell to come home to. Attendance at dinner was mandatory, and we were all required to bring clean hands and our best manners to the table. I now recognize this practice of dining in the afternoon as the English tradition of Sunday Lunch, or Sunday Roast, which is of course much older than my mother. I would guess that both of my parents grew up eating roasted meats and vegetables on Sunday afternoons, perhaps their parents, too.

My mother’s original twist on this tradition was popcorn. Once the dishes had all been done, the floors swept, naps taken, and appetites revived, my mother would stand at the stove and shake kernels back and forth in a wire mesh basket. Its long handle didn’t prevent your hands from getting dangerously close to a livid stove element, and it was a long process, making enough for all 9 of us.


So the invention of the hot-air popcorn blower was something of a watershed in our family history. It freed my mother’s hands to make carmel while the popcorn was popping. Anyone who has known her in the past 30 years has tasted her carmel popcorn. For probably a decade, Christmas Eve meant piling into the car with dozens of bags of puffed gold, and delivering them, along with mirthful carols, to friends around the city.

Although she’ll have my head for toying with such sacred family tradition, here is a new take on carmel popcorn featuring – you guessed it! – chipotle. Sounds weird, I know, but if you think salt does interesting things to carmel, hang on to your hairpins.


Chipotle carmel popcorn
adapted from Fat by Jennifer McLagan

8 cups popped popcorn
1 cup packed brown sugar
½ cup butter
2 tablespoons corn syrup
½ teaspoon sea salt or fleur de sel
1 ½ tablespoons purréed chipotle and adobe sauce
½ teaspoon baking soda

Preheat oven to 250oF. Line baking sheet with parchment and set aside.

In a sauce pan, add sugar, butter, corn syrup and salt over medium heat. Stir until sugar melts and mixture comes to a boil and reaches 250oF on a candy thermometer. Remove pan from heat and stir in baking soda and chipotle.

Pour the mixture over the popcorn and stir well with a spatula.

Bake for 35 minutes, stirring a few times. Allow to cool and store in an airtight container.

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§ 21 Responses to “chipotle carmel popcorn”

  • Lovely photos!Cant wait to try this recipe!

  • Rob says:

    Hey Alisa,
    This one is super easy and really, really good. I hope you like it. :-)

  • michelle says:

    What a great twist on the usual caramel corn. Sounds great!

  • DocChuck says:

    AHH, yes! I can relate to your post.

    It was also tradition in my boyhood home that we ate Sunday dinner early in the afternoon (about 1500 hours) so that our Mexican maid could spend her evening with her family.

    Although, as Germans, we were not deeply immersed into religion, my siblings and I WERE required to “dress for dinner”, which included a white shirt and a necktie.

    Thanks for the trip down memory lane.

  • I love chipotle. I can’t wait to try this!!!! Great photos.

  • Biz says:

    Holy yum!! Do you think that ground chipotle pepper would work??

    This is definitely going into my foodie bags – I needed one more thing – THANK YOU!

  • stephanie says:

    but… do not put to much chipotle…. unless you like fire popcorn

  • Rob says:

    I had thought of using dried chipotle powder instead of the canned variety. I would guess using a dried chipotle pepper would probably work. I would just try to chop it as finely and evenly as possible.
    In terms of quantity and heat, Stephanie is right. The original recipe called for 3 tablespoons of chipotle which was too hot for our tastes. I cut that amount in half. The really hot pats are the seeds. If you remove the seeds, it will have much less heat over all.

  • Patricia says:

    Love it! love the story! love you!

  • Biz says:

    The ground chipotle chile pepper worked! I added 1/2 tsp. to the caramel mixture and it is just the right amount of heat – thanks again!

    I’ll give you a shout out tomorrow on my post! :D

  • [...] other was spicy carmel corn.  The Dog’s Breakfast is a new blog to me, and the only thing I changed was added 1/2 tsp. [...]

  • I just found your site and I am loving it… shame about the grill and the condo association. When I was in college, I used a little hibache. It was allowed while a full grill was not in the apartment I lived in.

    Love all the chipotle stuff!

    Have plans for this for New Years

  • Megan Gordon says:

    Mmm, this looks lovely–thanks for sending me over! Very curious about the addition of chipotle and sea salt, and I love your presentation/photos here. Happy Holidays!

  • MrsDocChuck says:

    Talk about a trip down memory lane!

    That “Mexican maid” my husband is talking about was my mother!

    I couldn’t resist flirting with that plump little boy in his cute clip-on tie.

    The rest is history.

    Thanks for a great idea with the popcorn!

  • admin says:

    Hilarious. I hope at least he tipped her well.

  • Jon says:

    Wow! I can’t wait to try this. It’s just the sort of “twist” I love. I guess my only question left to ask is — is there any left over for Monday’s lunch? Or does it disappear as fast as you make it?

  • Jennifer says:

    This stuff is delicious and totally addictive. When I tried it, I started civilized enough, but eventually I was grabbing handfuls and stuffing it in my mouth. No, there will not be leftovers.

  • Maxine says:

    Just made this over the weekend and making a second batch tonigh….it was delicious!!!!
    Thank you for a great recipe and I love the chipotle touch.

  • I made this today and posted it on my blog.

    Thanks for the post!


  • Paulina S. says:

    I absolutely love this book.
    Have you tried any other recipes from it?

  • David says:

    Hi Paulina,

    We’ve also done the salted caramel tart and the butter chicken from this amazing book. There are about a dozen other recipes that we’re planning to try. This is really one of the best cook books ever. Have you tried anything from it?