|Cheater's Caramel Popcorn|
Well it was either this or chocolate chip cookie dough. This Caramel Corn was actually faster... and healthier.
You know those moments when you're just overcome with a craving? Well I was craving sweet (and maybe with a bit of salty) and God knows I didn't have the patience to wait the hour or so that it takes to make regular caramel corn!! I wasn't gifting this to anyone, I wasn't going to wrap it up and eat it two weeks from now, I wanted it right then and there.
Alas, I guess that's what the Christmas spirit does to you...it just makes you a little crazy, right? So I whipped up this caramel popcorn in about 5 minutes and ate it with a spoon!
That said, I suspect you could try this using honey or maple syrup instead of sugar, it just might not solidify as well as the sugar, and may be stickier. I will probably do this in the future, when I am in a more leisurely state of mind. So I can't really say this is a "healthy" snack, but it's better than regular caramel corn because it only has a teeny amount of brown sugar, rather than baked caramel corn that has a ton of sugar, and especially compared to store-bought caramel corn made with corn syrup!
I don't know how well this popcorn would hold up long term if you were give it as a gift, because it doesn't go through that whole process of being smothered in sugar and baked, but it's a great quick fix for a movie snack or a late night craving. I had enough to last me in a sealed bowl for about 3 days, and it still tasted fine.
This makes one extra large bowl of popcorn, about the equivalent of a bag of microwave popcorn.
5-6 Tbsp organic popcorn kernels (I get mine in bulk from my local co-op)
1/2 Tbsp olive or coconut oil or other healthy oil
2 Tbsp organic butter or dairy free alternative like Earth Balance
3 Tbsp organic brown sugar
1/4 tsp vanilla extract
salt to taste
1. To make the Cheater's Caramel, mix together the butter and the brown sugar in a microwave safe bowl. Microwave for about 35 seconds, until the butter melts, and stir rapidly to dissolve the brown sugar. Add the vanilla and mix in.
2. Prepare your "work station." Within close proximity, you'll need:
- A large pot to pop the popcorn with a tight fitting lid
- A large bowl for the popcorn
- Two oven mitts
- Your caramel mixture
- Salt for sprinkling
Prepare to work fast on this! Make sure you read these directions carefully, especially if you've never made popcorn the old fashioned way before.
3. In a large pot, heat the oil over high heat on an oven burner. Toss in one or two kernels to check the temperature. Shake the pot periodically, until the kernels pop. If they don't pop, but burn instead, the heat is not high enough. Get rid of the burnt kernels and turn up the heat. When it's hot enough, pour the rest of the popcorn kernels into the pot.
4. Put the lid on the pot, put on your oven mitts, and shake the pot, holding it up slightly above the burner. Periodically you can touch the pot onto the burner to keep the heat high. Keep shaking and heating the pot until the popping slows to 3-4 seconds between pops.
5. Remove from the burner, turn the heat off, dump the Cheater's Caramel mix onto the popcorn, put the lid and your mitts back on, hold the pot over the still hot burner and shake like mad to distribute the "caramel."
6. Sprinkle with salt and shake again. Dump into a large bowl and eat with a spoon to keep your fingers from getting sticky!
How do you like YOUR popcorn?
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