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Vegan Cinnabon Caramel Corn

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Katie from one of my favorite vegan blogs, Chocolate Covered Katie, announced today that she is going to host an online bake sale to raise money for disaster relief in Japan.  She grew up in Japan so this cause is near and dear to her heart.  I imagine we have all been touched by the disaster in one way or another, and I’m no exception.  I have a good friend that lives in Japan, and also have a co-worker whose family lives there, and while all of them came  out OK, my heart goes out to those who are suffering from loss and devastation because I know how easily it could have affected someone that I loved.

I had so much fun participating in Stephanie’s bake sale for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society, so I immediately started brainstorming about what I could donate to Katie’s.  I only have two vegan dessert recipes on my blog (Mounds Cake and Black Rice Pudding), and neither would travel very well, so I opted to make something else that would.  Caramel corn!  I took my favorite  Cinnabon Caramel Corn and turned it vegan and I have to say, it’s scrumptious!  I will be offering a full gallon-sized bag of it for Katie’s bake sale on April 5th.  I will give another announcement the day of the bake sale so you can stop by to bid or see if there’s anything else there you’d like to bid on and help raise money for Japan.  If you’d like to donate a vegan baked good, click here to check out the details.

Vegan Cinnabon Caramel Corn

Printable recipe
Printable recipe with picture

½ cup popcorn kernels or about 12 cups popped corn
½ cup roughly chopped pecans
½ cup roughly chopped walnuts
½ cup Earth Balance
1 cup packed light brown sugar
¼ cup light agave nectar or light corn syrup
1 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon
½ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
6 ounces vegan white chocolate, roughly chopped*
1 tablespoon coconut oil

Preheat oven to 200 degrees.  Use an air popper to pop corn into a large bowl.  Fish out any unpopped kernels, then sprinkle the nuts over the top and set aside. In a large saucepan, melt the Earth Balance over medium heat; stir in the brown sugar, agave nectar, cinnamon & salt. Bring to a boil while stirring constantly (I increase heat to medium-high to achieve this faster, then reduce heat back to medium once it’s boiling), then allow to boil for 4 minutes without stirring. Remove from heat and stir in soda and vanilla (mixture will bubble up and become foamy). Pour over the popcorn and stir well to coat. Spread out on a large rimmed baking sheet and bake in preheated oven for half an hour, stirring halfway through baking time. Remove from oven and scatter onto waxed paper-lined cookie sheets. Place white chocolate and coconut oil in microwave safe bowl and heat for 30 seconds; stir. Heat in 15-second intervals, stirring in between, until smooth. This should only take 1-2 times. Using a spoon, drizzle chocolate over the popcorn and put in refrigerator for ten minutes or until chocolate is firm.  Break into pieces and store in an airtight container or Ziploc bags.

*If you can’t find some sort of dairy-free, vegan white “chocolate” in your area, it is available for purchase online or you can make your own.  I used this recipe.  If you use homemade vegan white chocolate, do not melt it (it becomes too liquid and won’t coat the pieces very well).  Instead, chop fine and once the caramel corn is spread on waxed paper lined cookie sheets, scatter it over the top so that the heat from the caramel corn will melt it.  Place the sheets in the refrigerator as soon as the chocolate is on top to keep it from melting too fast or it will drain to the bottom instead of staying on top.

Recipe source: adapted from Our Best Bites


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Cinnabon Caramel Corn


http://a3.ec-images.myspacecdn.com/images02/55/8ed7965efc4f40d1aa1dbe0890c47f53/l.jpg

I suppose I could get in trouble for putting a trademarked name into the title of this popcorn, but the truth is I’m just way too unimportant for Cinnabon to care what I do with their name.  And if they tasted this popcorn, they’d probably consider it a compliment that their name had been ascribed to this tasty treat.

Does it taste like a Cinnabon?  I have no idea.  I think it does, but I’ve only had 1/4 of a single Cinnabon in my entire life, and that was four years ago and as far as I recall, it did not have pecans in it.  I do know, however, that it reminds me of a cinnamon roll and it is crazy delicious and I just really like calling it Cinnabon Caramel Corn (versus the official name: “Cinnamon Caramel Corn with Pecans and White Chocolate”–way too many syllables to pronounce when I could be stuffing my face with popcorn exactly eight syllables earlier.).

This would make a great food gift this holiday season and stays fresh in an airtight container for at least a week (based on reports from recievers of portions that were mailed).  Ours did not survive more than an hour after it had cooled.

OK, fine.  We ate half of it warm.

http://a3.ec-images.myspacecdn.com/images02/20/ee4f8106d15c47bdb6b243a5b120da61/l.jpg

Cinnabon Caramel Corn
Recipe by Our Best Bites
(My notes are in parentheses. (I like parentheses.))

12 C popped popcorn (about 1/2 C kernels)*
1 C roughly chopped pecans
1 C brown sugar
3/4 t cinnamon
1/4 C Karo syrup (or honey makes a good substitution)
1 stick real butter (1/2 C)
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. vanilla
3 squares almond bark

*You can use air popped or microwave popcorn. If using microwave, anything works, but I prefer a “natural” flavor that’s low in butter and salt.

Preheat oven to 250 degrees.

Place popcorn and chopped pecans in a large bowl and set aside. (I personally divided the popcorn & nuts between two ginormous bowls, which I would recommend so you have room for lots of stirring.)

Combine brown sugar and cinnamon in a 2 liter capacity microwave safe bowl. Mix well. Chop butter into chunks and place on top of sugar mixture. Pour corn syrup over the top of everything. Microwave on high for 30 seconds and then stir to combine. Return to microwave and heat for 2 minutes. Remove and stir and then microwave for 2 minutes more.

Remove from microwave and add in vanilla and baking soda. Stir to combine. Mixture will foam and rise. Pour caramel mixture over popcorn and pecans and stir very well so everything is well coated.

Spread popcorn mixture onto a foil-lined jelly roll pan. (I had to use a jelly roll pan & a 9×13 pan–I think 2 jelly roll pans would be best.) Place in oven and bake for 30 minutes, stirring every 10 minutes. (I thought the popcorn wasn’t quite crisp enough after it cooled and will try baking it 10-20 minutes longer next time. I usually bake caramel corn for an hour and found it odd this one only called for half the time.)

Remove from oven and spread out on a large piece of parchment, waxed paper, or foil.

Melt almond bark according to package instructions. Drizzle over popcorn mixture. (I dipped a fork in it and swirled it all over.) When almond bark is hardened and popcorn is cool, break into chunks and enjoy!

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