I created this recipe a few years ago for a ‘movie night’ themed cooking class, and it was a mega hit. Usually caramel corn is just a gross mess of corn syrup, excess sugar and hydrogenated oils. But this version! Oooooh, it’s so dang good! This homemade vegan caramel corn contains only great ingredients that you probably have in your kitchen right now, and it makes a fun treat for kids big and small.
Popcorn is a superfood!
Just like cabbage and sprouts and other foods I’d qualify as everyday superfoods, popcorn is a humble little snack that is actually quite healthful. Did you know that popcorn is actually a whole grain? And we all know we’re supposed to get more whole grains for fiber, protein and carbohydrates. And popcorn, the whole kernel of corn, has all the benefits conferred upon us by whole grains because it contains the germ, the bran and the endosperm. SF Gate is on the popcorn bandwagon. They write, “The germ contains healthy oils, vitamin E, protein, many B vitamins and minerals. The bran houses most of the fiber found in whole grains, as well as B vitamins, minerals, protein and antioxidants.” Mayo Clinic says 3 cups of air-popped popcorn can have 3.5 grams of fiber, about 15% of an adult daily fiber requirement. Not bad for a humble little snack! Of course to make popcorn into a health food, it needs to be homemade popcorn rather that movie popcorn, which is loaded with salt and oils and can fulfill half your daily calorie needs with just one bag! Gross!
Our recipe for homemade vegan caramel corn uses sweet dark brown sugar and the buttery richness of vegan margarine. We like Earth Balance since it’s non-hydrogenated, non-GMO and just generally awesome. Make a quick batch tonight and enjoy with your favorite Friday night film! Normally I’d suggest using alternative sweeteners, but sugar really works some magic here, making the caramel sticky and perfect. Coconut sugar, agave and other natural sweeteners just won’t work here.
Homemade Vegan Caramel Corn
½ cup popcorn kernels
1 Tablespoon + 3 Tablespoons coconut oil
1 Tablespoon Earth Balance margarine
½ cup brown sugar
¼ cup soymilk
- To make popcorn: Heat 1 Tablespoon coconut oil in a large stockpot. When oil is warm, add popcorn kernels, cover, and cook on medium-high until most popcorn has popped. Shake pan gently to ensure even popping- but don’t open the lid! Remove from heat after popping noise slows down- be careful not to burn the popcorn.
- To make the caramel: Add 3 Tablespoons coconut oil, Earth Balance, brown sugar, and soymilk to a small saucepan. Simmer on very low heat for five minutes, stirring constantly. Hot sugar is very dangerous- please be careful.
- Add popped popcorn to a large cookie sheet and drizzle with caramel. Stir to coat, and let stand for five minutes for caramel to cool. Best served immediately!
Yield: about 8 cups caramel corn