I can’t even waaaait to tell you about this popcorn.

hot pepper bacon popcorn with a chocolate drizzle I howsweeteats.com

So here’s the deal. You may have noticed that I’ve been completely FANATICAL about popcorn since having Max. It’s been such a super simple snack, one that I can actually add different flavors to in minutes and isn’t completely terrible for me. Like the three weeks that I survived on Cheez- It’s? Um no.

I mean, it’s a whole grain! It’s practically a vegetable. A salad. It’s vegan!

hot pepper bacon popcorn with a chocolate drizzle I howsweeteats.com

I’ve been popping my own popcorn on the stove for years – it’s something my dad did multiple times a week when I was growing up. While he just stuck (and still sticks) to popping in light oil and adding salt, I… have to get a little trashier. The gorgeous peppers below? They are going to infuse your oil. Oh yes.

But first – we gotta talk chocolate.

When I learned that the next Lindt HELLO flavor was Sweet Popcorn? I nearly lost my marbles. I knew there was a new flavor coming out after my trip there in October, but I had no idea it would be this crazy combo.

I was a bit skeptical because I wasn’t sure how it could possibly work. Wouldn’t the popcorn get soggy? Would it just stick to my teeth? My favorite bar (well, up until now) has been the HELLO cookies and cream because it’s like actual chocolate CHIP cookies and cream. Remember when I made the hot chocolate? I adore it. Sweet Popcorn couldn’t beat that. No way.

hot pepper bacon popcorn with a chocolate drizzle I howsweeteats.com

When I received a few bars from Lindt, I stashed them away in the pantry so I wouldn’t be tempted to eat them – I needed them for recipe purposes.


They totally taunted me from inside the cupboard. I could hear them calling me GRAB ME! EAT ME! Voices in my head?

Ugh. Soooo. Before I even got said recipe done those were inhaled. Major fail. Shared slightly, but inhaled nonetheless. Some even slathered in peanut butter (omg do it). Which meant I went and raided Target for more bars. The worst (best?) part is that they have them in this stick form too. Like one big bite sized stick? GAH. It can be devoured before you even are out of the Target parking lot. Not that I know anything about that.

I can’t even leave the store without grabbing one now.

hot pepper bacon popcorn with a chocolate drizzle I howsweeteats.com

The first bite of this bar was heaven. I could not BELIEVE the buttery popcorn flavor. It was like I’m back in middle school again pouring a box of buncha crunch on my popcorn while seeing Titantic for the third time. (#leoforlife) The smoothest milk chocolate-y creamy filling with pieces of popcorn – but not chewy popcorn.

Poppy popcorn! But not exploding popping. You know?

The ideal crispiness. Crunchy and salty and all my movie snacks tucked into one nostalgic bar. Love it so much that I hate it.

hot pepper bacon popcorn with a chocolate drizzle I howsweeteats.com

Since I’m working with Lindt on their HELLO line this year, I wanted to make a recipe inspired by this bar as opposed to just chopping it up and sticking it inside a cookie or something.

Back in the day when I worked at the gym, one of the members used to bring in this homemade hot pepper popcorn. I have no idea how he made it – I am assuming he popped it in pepper oil like I did here? – but he would package it up in those long plastic bags that you see at country fairs and what not. We would all fight over it. It was SO good. And this is coming from someone who is a total wimp and doesn’t go for many spicy foods.

I have wanted to make popcorn like that forever. And this was my perfect excuse.

hot pepper bacon popcorn with a chocolate drizzle I howsweeteats.com

These little kernels here are popped in jalapeño-infused oil AND bacon grease, covered in a sprinkle of crunchy bacon (after a little butter – duh) and then a chocolate drizzle. Spicy, smoky, sweet is the name of the game. You could also do hot pepper popcorn with parmesan! Um yes please.

I fried up my favorite smokehouse bacon and used some of the grease for the popcorn. I’ve drizzled both milk and dark chocolate on top now (this 85% bar is awesome if you’re afraid of sweetness) but I really love to eat it with a square or two (or six) of the Sweet Popcorn bar. The flavor is insaaaane.

See? Just look at the bar. It wants to smooch you.

hot pepper bacon popcorn with a chocolate drizzle I howsweeteats.com

Hot Pepper Bacon Popcorn with a Chocolate Drizzle

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  • A few hours or a day or so ahead of time (or even longer) – slice your peppers and place them in a jar. Cover them with the canola oil and cover the jar with plastic wrap.
  • When you’re ready to make the popcorn, heat a large heavy-bottomed or stainless pot over medium heat and add the bacon. Cook until the fat is rendered and the bacon is crispy. Remove the bacon with a slotted spoon and place it on a paper towel to drain. You want about 2 tablespoons of bacon grease for the popcorn, so if there is a lot more than that, remove it from the pot. (I store mine in a jar in the fridge!)
  • Take 3 to 4 tablespoons of the hot pepper oil from the jar and add it to the bacon grease. Increase the heat to medium-high (occasionally even increasing it to high), and add the corn kernels. Gently shake the pot until the kernels begin popping, then cover the pot. Continue to gently shake until all is popped to prevent kernels from burning. Once the kernels are all popped, immediately place the popcorn in a large bowl. Cover it with the melted butter and salt, tossing extremely well to coat. Toss in half of the bacon and drizzle on some the melted chocolate, tossing again. If you want to serve this in cute bags or boxes, I suggest layering on the bacon and chocolate (like I did above in the bag). Finish off by adding the remaining bacon and chocolate drizzle on top. Spicy – sweet – smoky!

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hot pepper bacon popcorn with a chocolate drizzle I howsweeteats.com

This bag is my new best friend.

[this post is part of a partnership I’m doing with Lindt in 2015. I’ll be sharing a few more recipes over the course of the year and you can read more about my trip here!]