Agave Caramel Popcorn is Just the Ticket!
Written by Gayle
I wanted to make a healthier version of caramel-chocolate popcorn for my Valentine this year, so I went searching for alternatives for the sugary, fatty recipes that we know and (unfortunately) love. I found several that looked good, so I played around and came up with this delicious version!
Agave--a more healthy sweetener
Lots of us are trying to cut back on our sugar consumption. But it tastes so good! So what's an alternative? Try agave syrup. Agave comes from the Agave americana plant, which has sword-like leaves. The juice of the plant is filtered and heated to make a syrup.
Agave syrup has a lower glycemic index than table sugar, and is 1.4 times sweeter. So less is more! Agave is also vegan, and the darker varieties have not been heated over 118 degrees, so are considered raw as well. Agave is still high in fructose, so should be used in moderation, like all sweeteners. But for an occasional treat, agave is a great alternative to highly processed sweets.
- 1 1/2 to 2 gallons of popped popcorn
- 1 3/4 cups agave syrup
- 1/2 cup heavy whipping cream
- 2 TBSP butter
- pinch of salt
- (optional) 2 bars of organic chocolate--I used the Chocolove brand, but we have lots of really delicious, gourmet chocolates to choose from.
- Put all of the ingredients in a heavy sauce pan and bring to a boil.
- Stir regularly, and adjust the heat to keep it at a rolling boil without boiling over.
- Boil until the mixture turns a dark caramel color
- Cook to a soft-ball stage. If you have a candy thermometer, that's about 235-245 degrees. To test (if you don't have a candy thermometer), drop about 1/2 tsp of the mixture into cold water, and allow to cool. Pick it up with your fingers. If it holds together but isn't crunchy or hard, it's just right. **
- Pour half of the caramel sauce over the popcorn, and stir well to coat.
- Add the rest of the sauce, stirring to coat the popcorn.
- Pour the caramel popcorn out onto a clean counter, spreading it to one layer.
- Allow to cool, then break up the pieces
- Melt the chocolate. Use a double boiler over hot water to gently melt it. (Do not put it directly onto the heat--it will cook and the crumble. Not appealing!)
- Drizzle the chocolate over the cooled caramel popcorn.
- Allow to cool and then package it in a romantic package!
And here's another idea, just for fun--
**If you would like to make caramels, rather than caramel popcorn, cook the sauce longer--until it is firmer when tested. Pour the sauce into a buttered pan (like a cake pan), allow to cool, and then cut into squares with a sharp, buttered knife. If you like salted caramels, sprinkle some sea salt on the top of the warm caramel!**
Have a wonderful time treating your sweetie!