Wine Matches Made in Heaven

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Chili-chocolate fudge with mangos and guajillo caramel popcorn

Recipe courtesy Rick Bayless, chef, Red O, Newport Beach, California

Instead of chocolate and Champagne, try chili-chocolate fudge with caramel popcorn and a sparkling red Brachetto. Homemade fudge gets a spicy, South-of-the-Border kick with chili-spiked chocolate fudge squares and guajillo-dusted caramel corn, courtesy of Mexican cooking authority and TV personality, Rick Bayless.

2 cups heavy cream 
½ cup evaporated milk
¾ cup corn syrup, divided 
5⅓ cups dark chocolate (65–70%)
1⅘ cups softened butter, divided
2 teaspoons salt, divided
9 tablespoons guajillo chili powder, divided
1 package popcorn
2 cups brown sugar
1 tablespoon molasses
½ teaspoon baking soda
1 mango, diced

Combine the cream, evaporated milk and ¼ cup of corn syrup in a medium-sized pot and bring to the scalding point (just before boiling). In a bowl, combine the chocolate, 3 tablespoons of the guajillo powder, 1 teaspoon of salt and ⅘ cup of the softened butter.

Whisking slowly, pour the hot cream over the chocolate mixture to start to melt it together. Whisk until mixture is completely melted. Pour into a fudge pan, mold or other container and let mixture set at room temperature for 2–3 hours before cutting.

Preheat an oven to 325˚F.

Cook popcorn according to package directions. Set aside. In a medium-sized pot, combine the brown sugar, the remaining butter, the remaining corn syrup, molasses and the remaining salt. Bring mixture to a boil and continue to cook until it reaches 250˚F with a candy thermometer. Then add the baking soda and whisk in until combined. Pour mixture over popcorn and add the remaining guajillo chili powder. Toss until all the popcorn is covered with the caramel. On a greased baking sheet, bake popcorn for 20 minutes, tossing again after 10 minutes. Let popcorn cool to room temperature.

To serve, cut fudge into 2-inch squares. Top with ¼-cup guajillo caramel corn and garnish with a sprinkling of fresh-diced mangos. Serves 10–12.

The Pairing:

Christopher Janz, sommelier at Red O, recommends Rosa Regale Brachetto d’Acqui to match with the chili-chocolate dessert. “It has flavors of raspberry and strawberry and a slight herbaceous finish,” says Janz, “pairing perfectly with chocolate.”

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Wine Matches Made in Heaven

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