Caramel is perfectly browned sugar and butter mixed together, in the most simplest of forms.
If you check cookbooks that most people own, the caramel recipes nearly always call for white sugar, corn syrup, brown sugar, or some combination thereof.
Incorporating natural sweeteners can be a bit of a challenge, mainly because folks are used to baking with the simplicity of white sugar, and are less excited to branch away from that 'perfect' taste and texture.
We wanted to make our caramel popcorn with a whole sugar that would work well for a caramel sauce but also still taste yummy for the little goblins and witches! (Caramel popcorn is most associated with Halloween and Christmas, but really, who's paying attention? You can treat yourself in the springtime too!)
Enter coconut sugar! Coconut sugar combined with melted butter really makes this recipe. The richness from the butter melds beautifully with the satisfying sweetness of the coconut sugar and the crunch of the sea salt into a sweet and savory bowl of popcorn everyone will love! (And no, it doesn't taste like coconuts!)
Is this something you should enjoy every day? No! But its a treat and I love promoting the enjoyment of food. It's one of my big beliefs that food that isn't-so-great-for-us should still be enjoyed, and guilt free too.
Coconut sugar one of my favorite sweeteners! I find it works well in all recipes that call for any other sugar, you can use it in the same ratio (1 cup: 1 cup) AND I even use it in my kombucha. If you are into experimenting, there is a lot you could do with this delicious recipe, including adding peanuts or broken dark chocolate bits at the very end, or dumping in some chili powder, curry, or your favorite spice right into the caramel for a sweet & savory taste explosion.
Pro Insight: If you stop stirring, you will actually burn this quickly and it doesn't take long, so make sure to not take a step away from it during that crucial step.
Let's get going!
hot air popper large glass bowl wooden spoon saucepan + baking sheet
14-15 cups popped plain popcorn (about 1/2 cup unpopped)
1/2 cup butter(organic if you really want to spoil yourself!)
1/2 cup coconut sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1. Melt butter on low in a saucepan. Add sugar while the butter melts, stirring with a wooden spoon constantly until nicely combined.
2. Heat the mixture over medium-high heat until it begins bubbling. Lower the heat slightly and let roll for 5 more minutes, *stirring constantly.* Remove from heat and add vanilla.
3. It's nice to have someone help you at this point, if possible.
4. Spread the popcorn on a baking sheet and pour the caramel mixture over the popcorn, stirring gently with a wooden spoon until coated. Immediately sprinkle with salt to taste and stir to combine. You can serve it now, or bake it in the oven at 200 for 30-40 minutes to harden it up even more. You could even make caramel popcorn balls with it. (Just be careful, it's HOT!)