Movie Treats: Ras el Hanout Spiced Popcorn with Chocolate

This past summer, I was up in Vermont cooking for a retreat group when I ran out of cumin. When it comes to cooking (and eating) my favorite flavors are either Latin or Middle Eastern, so the cumin tends to go quickly.

I started rummaging around in the cabinets for something else to rub on the carrots I was roasting, and came across a small container of homemade Ras El Hanout--a North African spice mix that combines sweet, smokey and hot spices.

"Let's try it," I thought and added some to my prep bowl.

The results? Incredible! I served the roasted carrots with a yogurt dressing and some mixed herbs, and they ended up being one of the most popular dishes of the evening.

The next day, I pulled the spice out again, and whisked it into some yogurt with crumbled feta and finely chopped mint. I served this one with flatbread chips, and once again...another hit!

By the end of the long weekend, that spice mix had become a solid new favorite, and I couldn't wait to add it to my spice cabinet at home for continued experimentation.
And this popcorn? Definitely one of the winners of aforementioned experiments. It's an easy treat, too. You start of with plain buttered popcorn. You can make it on the stove or in the microwave. (The stove is healthier, but I admit to being lazy and almost always just doing it in the microwave.)

Then toss it with the Ras el Hanout, a bit of cayenne (for extra heat--totally optional) and drizzle with melted dark chocolate. Add some roasted salted almonds, and boom...done! A killer movie snack that's salty, sweet, spicy, and so super easy.

Btw, this + champagne? It just WORKS.

Where to Buy: Ras el Hanout is pretty commonly found at well-stocked supermarkets like Whole Foods, online, or at spice shops. Note that the mixes can vary based on the spice combination, so shop around and find the one you like best. Personally I go for the ones that are a little sweeter without too much cumin or turmeric (so look for something brown--not yellow). If you can't find it, Indian Garam Masala OR Chinese Five Spice would also work well in this recipe (each with slightly different, but similar, flavor profiles.) Buy Ras el Hanout online here.

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Ras el Hanout Spiced Popcorn with Chocolate

4 cups popped buttered popcorn (microwave or stovetop)
1 cup roasted salted almonds (optional)
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 teaspoons Ras el Hanout
1/4 teaspoon ground cayenne
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 cup dark chocolate chips

Toss popcorn and almonds in large bowl with oil, ras el hanout, cayenne, and salt. Spread out on a baking sheet. In a separate small bowl, melt the chocolate in the microwave, and then immediately drizzle over the popcorn. Let set about 30 minutes. Transfer to a bowl

(Best eaten the same day.)

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