It’s that time of year again…The time when it’s not only acceptable, but expected, that you add pumpkin or pumpkin pie spice to everything. Pumpkin cupcakes, pumpkin soup, pumpkin pancakes, pumpkin spice lattes (not vegan, fyi). While there isn’t pumpkin in this recipe, it smells like pumpkin pie and tastes wonderful. Plus I’m kind of pumpkined out after trying all year to use up the pumpkin in our freezer from last year.
Leave it to me to not realize that I was out of a major ingredient in this recipe until I was ready to start cooking. Typical. I also managed to burn myself THREE times. Also typical. I thought I had more brown sugar than I really did, so I had to improvise. Instead of brown sugar I ended up using white sugar and molasses. After tasting the final result, I am actually glad that I used molasses because it definitely adds to the flavor of the caramel corn.
Make a batch of this and eat it while cuddled up with someone watching a scary movie. Or eat it all while your husband and kid are taking a nap. I won’t tell anyone if you don’t share.
Vegan Pumpkin Spice Caramel Popcorn
12 c popped popcorn (I made popcorn using Strawberry Popcorn from our garden. You can use any kind you want, but I’d recommend not using microwave popcorn because it will probably be too buttery and salty.)
3/4 c Earth Balance Buttery Sticks
1 1/2 c white sugar (or use 1 1/2 c brown sugar and omit the molasses)
2 1/4 tbsp molasses
3/4 c light corn syrup
3/4 tsp salt
3/4 tsp baking soda
1 1/2 tsp vanilla
3 tbsp pumpkin pie spice (see recipe below if you don’t have this on hand)
Heat oven to 250 degrees. Put the popcorn in a large bowl, pan or cookie sheet. I used a large roasting pan. It was the perfect size to hold all the popcorn, and using a pan that had high sides helped when I was stirring the popcorn.
In a large pot (non-stick if you have it) combine the margarine, sugar, molasses, corn syrup and salt. Heat until the butter is melted, stirring well. Let the mixture boil for 5 minutes, without stirring. Remove from heat and add the baking soda, vanilla and pumpkin pie spice. Stir well to combine. Pour the caramel over the popcorn and mix well. Try to coat as much of the popcorn as you can with the caramel. Bake the popcorn for 50 minutes, stirring occasionally. The caramel will become more evenly distributed when you stir the popcorn while it’s cooking.
Remove the popcorn from the oven and let it cool completely. Break up any large pieces and store in an air-tight container.
Pumpkin Pie Spice
3 tbsp ground cinnamon
3 tsp ground nutmeg
3 tsp ground ginger
2 tsp ground allspice
Mix all spices to combine. This will make more than you need for the caramel corn recipe, so just keep the extra in a jar or plastic bag.