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Homemade Caramel Popcorn

Caramel popcorn is surprisingly easy to make and to veganize—it’s also surprisingly addictive. I don’t even really have much of a sweet tooth, but I found myself unable to stop stealing pieces from the bowls I was taking pictures of, and after a few minutes it became noticeable. Yep, those bowls in the back of the photo are there for a reason.

The recipe instructions for this are very easy to follow, but I do have one suggestion on the popcorn—don’t buy the microwavable stuff in the two layers of individual packaging. You can buy a bag of kernels for about one dollar and make what seems like a million cups of popcorn.

It’s super easy to make too. Place a medium or large pot over medium-high heat and add enough kernels to cover the bottom. Top with a lid and then sort of shake the pot every few seconds. If you’re using a saucepan with a lid—and your arm is up for it—let it hover right above your burner and move the pan in a circular motion to prevent the kernels from burning. After just a few minutes, you’ll have perfectly popped corn.

This method also allows you to cook the popcorn without any butter or oil, so it is much healthier. Well, it’s healthier until you drown it in margarine, and sugar, and corn syrup, as the recipe below calls for. But, hey—the occasional splurge is necessary.

Homemade Caramel Popcorn
10 cups popcorn, popped
1/2 cup roasted peanuts
1/2 cup soy margarine (try Earth Balance)
1 cup brown sugar, packed
1/4 cup corn syrup
1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
1/2 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. baking soda

  • Preheat the oven to 250°F. Grease a large baking pan with a generous amount of margarine and set aside.
  • In a large bowl or two, combine the popcorn and the peanuts and set aside.
  • In a heavy saucepan, combine the margarine, brown sugar, and corn syrup and whisk over medium heat until the margarine melts. Bring to a boil and let cook, without stirring, for about 4 minutes, or until the mixture reaches 255°F on a candy thermometer.
  • Remove from the heat and stir in the vanilla, salt, and baking soda, then gradually pour over the popcorn and nuts, stirring to coat. Pour the popcorn into the baking pan and place in the oven.
  • Cook for 45 minutes to 1 hour, stirring often. Remove from the oven and let cool completely before storing.

Makes 10 cups

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