I have been seeing so many beautiful vegan recipes on pinterest lately! But the one thing which I wasn’t seeing was a vegan variation of caramelized popcorn. So, I decided to do a vegan version of one of the ultimate homemade treats.
The key to making caramelized popcorn vegan style is to of course replace the dairy component. I have seen some recipes which call for vegan butter to act as the replacement. Not being vegan I did not have any vegan butter in the house. However what I did have, and always have, was a nice big tub of coconut oil!
And as luck would have it coconut oil is the perfect substitute to use in place of butter for making vegan caramel popcorn.
Some caramel recipes call for a little milk, so I took the whole coconut thing a little further and opened a tin of coconut milk which was originally destined for a thai curry. My logic was that the coconut milk would help to yield up a lovely creamy caramel sauce. I only needed to use a few tablespoons, so I did not alter its calling completely.
With the wind of inspiration still in my sails, it turned out that this was a good call. As it turned out I ended up melting and caramelizing the sugar combined with coconut milk. Using this “wet” method to make caramel is supposed to be easier as there is less chance of the sugar burning than if you use a dry method and simply melt the sugar by itself.
Once the sugar was melted nicely into the coconut milk, I stirred in my coconut oil until it was smooth and pretty. I then banging my popcorn into the caramel pot and stirred and stirred. At one point I was quite concerned because the caramel seemed a little bit too runny (think I was maybe a bit excited when I was adding the coconut milk).
However I went ahead and turned the gorgeous sticky mess out onto a lined baking sheet and chucked on a generous dose of cinnamon. I turned the oven right up to 347 degrees Fahrenheit (175 degrees Celsius) and let the corn bake away for about 30 minutes, turning it every ten minutes.
By the time I took the pan out of the oven any excess runniness had disappeared and I had on my hands a large batch of beautifully caramelised popcorn, vegan style!
The one aspect that was a flop was that when I started out I had great visions of making it a “reduced sugar” batch as well. My father in law came home from the doctor a few days ago and promptly informed us that he was “off the sugar”. The poor man has been mooning around ever since!
So, armed with the idea of giving Pa Russy a treat, I started out making the caramel sauce with a half measure of sugar. Guys, this does not work. I ended up putting the full amount in, otherwise I would have ended up with flopped caramel sauce.
So, while the caramel popcorn turned out beautifully, I feel terrible because Pa Russy is now in agony watching the Troll wolfing down the lot on his own. Fortunately the Troll is very efficient at wolfing, so the situation will resolve itself presently.
Vegan Caramelized PopcornPrint This
- 1 large bowl of ready made popcorn
- 1 cup of sugar
- 4 tablespoons of coconut oil
- 4 tablespoons of coconut milk
- Vanilla essence
- Large pot for making the caramel in
- Long handled spoon
- Baking sheet lined with wax paper
- Heat up the coconut milk on the stove in a large pot. The bigger the better as you will be using this to mix the popcorn in.
- Add in the sugar. Allow the sugar to melt into the coconut milk.
- Do not stir. If you want to create movement in the pot, simply pick it up and tilt it back and forth. This will also give you a good indication as how much sugar is left that hasn’t melted.
- While you are waiting you can put the oven on to preheat to 347 degrees Fahrenheit (175 degrees Celsius).
- Once the sugar is all melted, bubbles are beginning to form and the liquid is taking on a caramelized amber color it is time to add the coconut oil. Remove the pot from the heat, and spoon in the coconut oil.
- Stir until the mix is smooth and creamy looking.
- Now add the popcorn to the pot. Stir the whole lot with a long handled spoon, until the popcorn is evenly coated with caramel.
- Transfer the mixture into your baking sheet.
- Pop the tray into the oven and allow to bake for about 20-30minutes, turning the popcorn every 10 minutes for even baking.
Once your caramelized popcorn has baked to perfection take it out and allow it to cool before storing in an airtight container.
Rebel chef’s tip: If you are making this to take to a party or to give to someone, keep the whole operation a secret and store the finished popcorn in a clever place. Such as in the back of the linen closet.. : P