This savory, sweet, and spicy snack is like Cracker Jacks gone wild. There are some big flavors here, borrowing from Thai, Caribbean, Vietnamese, and Indian cooking. It's also spicy! So beware, and try not to watch weepy movies that'll cause you touch your eyes while you're eating this treat.
Popping the popcorn in coconut oil isn't strictly necessary -- substitute canola oil instead -- but you'll love the depth of coconut flavor you get from it. Also, if you don't have superfine sugar, whirr regular granulated sugar in a grinder, blender, or food processor until fine. —vrunka
Test Kitchen Notes
This is an awesome way to kick boring old popcorn up a notch into an entirely new stratosphere. Although it took me 3 tries to get the chili pepper/sugar mixture to melt properly, the end result was definitely a winner. I served it as pre-barbeque snack and everyone asked for the recipe. The spicy, salty, sweet combo is perfectly balanced and not at all cloying. Finding Thai chilis was somewhat of a challenge, but I think you could experiment with other kinds of peppers. Also, to avoid the melting fiascos I experienced, I'd decrease the sugar. —hurleyburley
In a large pot (at least 5 quarts), heat coconut oil over medium-high heat. When it is hot, add the popcorn and cover tightly. Once popping starts, vigorously shake the pot to distribute kernels. Once popping slows, remove the pot from heat and pour popcorn into a large bowl.
In a large skillet, heat the canola oil over medium heat. When it has warmed, add garlic and chili peppers just until they release their fragrance, about 10 seconds. Immediately add the sugar and stir several times to just melt the sugar. Pour over the popcorn.
Add the peanuts, lime zest, coconut, black pepper, and salt, and toss well to mix.