Everyone knows that a good movie is enhanced by good food, and I don’t like to limit said food to the concession stand. In fact, I’m all about BYO treats when it comes to movie theaters. Yes, I know that this is frowned upon (or worse, illegal), but I can’t help myself. There are several issues with theater concessions, and sometimes you just have to take matters into your own hands.
First of all, I’m not really into movie popcorn. Ever since downing a medium “buttered” popcorn and projectile vomiting on the sidewalk after Coneheads circa 1993 (sorry for that visual), I’ve been wary of the stuff. Plus, movie popcorn is definitely not worth the obscene amount of calories and fat it contains. I’d rather eat Domino’s, ya feel me? Second, everything at the concession stand is obscenely overpriced, and it makes me irrationally angry to pay ten bucks for M&Ms. Last, but certainly not least, they do not sell alcohol at most movie theaters. This is terrible on so many levels.
As a result of the aforementioned tragedies, I almost always go to the movies armed with my own provisions. I try to pack at least two different food options (one sweet, one savory) along with a large bottle of water or wine, depending on the time of day. This practice is cheaper, more efficient (dear Lord, the lines!), and allows me significant freedom in my snack choices, which is always a good thing.
Unfortunately, smuggling outside goods into the movie theater has become increasingly difficult over the past few years. I’m all about safety, but security at the Union Square Regal Cinema is tighter than a DMX concert, and it’s been seriously cramping my snack style. They’ve taken to checking all women’s purses, and I swear I’ve seen some peeps be subjected to a full pat-down.
I get a little sweaty when I break rules, so I use Logan as a food/booze mule. He has an excellent poker face, and for whatever reason, nobody seems to hassle a dude with a shopping bag and/or canvas tote. Thanks to him, we’ve managed to enjoy all kinds of contraband treats over the past few months, and we even pulled off a classy dinner and cocktails during a recent viewing of Captain Phillips. Logan has been itching to smuggle a full pizza into the theater, but I told him not to push our luck. Hubris is real.
Last weekend, I went to see The Wolf of Wall Street with my roommate and some friends. As per usual, we brought our own candy and cocktails, but we were ill-prepared for what turned out to be the longest movie in the history of the world. I obviously crushed my Sour Patch Kids before Leo managed to make his first million, so by the time he was on his seventeenth Quaalude bender, I was hungry, antsy and rocking a slight buzz. My mind kept wandering to different snack foods and at some point during the film’s third hour, a vision of Dark Chocolate Chipotle Popcorn danced before my eyes.
I whipped up a batch of the stuff less than 24 hours later, and I can honestly say that Dark Chocolate Chipotle Popcorn is one of the most epic snacks that I’ve consumed in a while. If you’re into sweet and savory flavor combinations, this stuff is going to majorly float your boat. It’s sort of the black tie version of putting M&Ms in your popcorn. I mean, I’d be pumped about the dark chocolate and kosher salt on this popcorn alone, but the chipotle powder and cayenne really take things to the next level. The smoky heat coupled with the chocolate’s subtle sweetness is ridonculous. Each bite is like a salty, spicy, chocolate-y fiesta in your mouth.
The most glorious thing about this popcorn is that it’s actually good for you. Popcorn is naturally high in antioxidants, and it’s packed with fiber, which will keep you full while improving digestion, lowering cholesterol and reducing the risk of cardiovascular disease. Instead of scary chemical flavorings or artery-clogging butter, this popcorn is dressed with just a few tablespoons of heart-healthy olive oil, spices, and mood-boosting, antioxidant-rich dark chocolate. Plus, it’s vegan and gluten-free, so…booyah.
On the other hand, if you wanted to go rogue and try a No-Calorie Sunday version of this popcorn, I would suggest throwing some crumbled crispy bacon into the mix. I also like the idea of serving it over ice cream or with really strong margaritas. Get some.
To those of you that have never made stovetop popcorn before, be not afraid, friends. It’s incredibly simple and surprisingly fun. All you need to do is heat a little bit of oil in a pot, add the popcorn kernels, put the lid on and get it poppin’. Five minutes and a few shakes of the pot later and you’ve got fresh, healthy popcorn at your disposal that’s free of all the scary carcinogens in microwave popcorn. (Ever heard of popcorn lung?) Toss it with some olive oil and spices, drizzle it with a little melted chocolate, and you’re good to go.
You’re going to want to smuggle this popcorn into the movies, serve it at your next fancy cocktail party, and get very weird with it on your couch. The recipe can be scaled down if you’re flying solo, and doubling it for a larger group is practically a breeze. It also stays pretty fresh in a Ziploc for a few days, so I recommend keeping a batch on hand for convenient, healthy snacking during the week.
Fancy popcorn is so hot right now. Do it.
Dark Chocolate Chipotle Popcorn: (Serves 4)
2-3 tablespoons grapeseed oil (you can also use vegetable, canola, olive or coconut oil)
½ cup popping corn
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
2 teaspoons chipotle chili powder
¾-1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 pinch cayenne pepper (optional)
3 ounces dark chocolate
Preparing your Dark Chocolate Chipotle Popcorn:
-Pour the grapeseed (or oil of your choice) into a large deep, pot. (You want just enough oil to coat the bottom of the pot.) Place the pot over medium heat, add 3 corn kernels, and cover with a lid.
-Cook the popcorn, shaking the pot occasionally, until the popping sound stops, about 4-5 minutes.
-While the corn is popping, warm 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a small pot.
-When the corn has popped, immediately pour it out into a large bowl.
- 2-3 tablespoons grapeseed oil (you can also use vegetable, canola, olive or coconut oil)
- ½ cup popping corn
- 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- 2 teaspoons chipotle chili powder
- ¾-1 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1 pinch cayenne pepper (optional)
- 3 ounces dark chocolate
- Pour the grapeseed (or oil of your choice) into a large deep, pot. (You want just enough oil to coat the bottom of the pot.) Place the pot over medium heat, add 3 corn kernels, and cover with a lid.
- When the kernels pop, remove the lid and add the rest of the popping corn. Cover the pot and give it a few shakes. Make sure you hold the lid down while you shake, friends. I don’t want you to injure yourselves. Cook the popcorn, shaking the pot occasionally, until the popping sound stops, about 4-5 minutes.
- While the corn is popping, warm 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a small pot.
- When the corn has popped, immediately pour it out into a large bowl. Drizzle the popcorn with the warm olive oil, and sprinkle with the chipotle powder, kosher salt, cayenne pepper. Toss well to coat your popcorn with seasoning.
- Pour the seasoned popcorn onto a foil lined baking sheet in an even layer.
- Melt chocolate in a double-boiler or in the microwave. If you’re microwaving the chocolate, do it in 30-second intervals, stirring each after each one. It should take about 90 seconds.
- Use a fork to drizzle the melted chocolate over the popcorn. Allow the chocolate to cool and set before serving, about 20 minutes. If you’re feeling particularly antsy, feel free to pop the baking sheet into the oven for 10 minutes to speed up the process.
- Break up the popcorn with your hands and serve.