I speak not as an angry spinster but as a happily married woman when I say: I hate Valentine's Day. It probably stems from my general dislike of anything overly girly or pink, and my feeling that a sweet gesture of love is much more special on a day when society isn't pressuring you into doing it. And don't even get me started on how alienating the holiday is for anyone not in a romantic relationship.
In short, my feelings about Valentine's Day are a lot like this popcorn: salty and a little bitter, but impossible to ignore.
You might be thinking that my husband and I must be serious, unsentimental people, but that couldn't be further from reality. The truth is, we are both so busy most of the time that a night when we get to cozy up in our comfy pants and watch a movie at home with the dog is a special night indeed. Stovetop popcorn usually makes an appearance, sometimes tossed with a little Parmesan and black pepper, sometimes with a little olive oil and sea salt.
But for a crunchy snack and dessert in one, this salty, dark-chocolate-coated popcorn is my new favorite. It's just barely sweet, a touch bitter, and just salty enough to send me back to the bowl again and again. Salted caramel corn used to be my go-to fancy popcorn, but since this recipe is so much easier and less messy, I know I'll be making it more often, especially as a quick party snack.
But this isn't a treat that has to be shared. Should you find yourself alone this Thursday, make this popcorn, settle back in your comfy pants and rejoice in the freedom of being able to choose whatever movie you want — and watch out, because this recipe for four can easily become a meal for one.
Salted Dark Chocolate Popcorn
1 tablespoon grapeseed or other neutral oil 1/3 cup popcorn kernels 4 ounces good-quality dark chocolate, chopped 3/4 teaspoon fine sea salt, divided
In a medium pot, heat the oil and 3 kernels of popcorn, covered, over medium heat until all 3 kernels pop. Pour in the 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. Pour popcorn into a large bowl, removing any unpopped or partially popped kernels you see.
Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper and set aside. Place the chocolate and 1/2 teaspoon 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 1/4 teaspoon salt. Let sit at room temperature until chocolate has hardened, about 1 hour.
Keeps for up to 3 days in an airtight container, but if you can keep it around that long, you are a stronger person than I am.
• If you are making this popcorn for a vegan eater, make sure to use a dark chocolate with no dairy in the ingredients.