What are the holidays without that tin of homemade caramel popcorn?
I swapped out butter for vegan butter and the results are pretty much the same.
Huzzah for vegan caramel popcorn!
The holidays seem to have just snuck up on me. One minute it’s December 1, and then the next, Christmas is in 11 days! And for the first time, Christmas is something I’m looking forward too. Not that I never enjoyed Christmas before, but I kind of dreaded the holiday tunes and the nerve-wracking process of finding the perfect present.
I didn’t think that I would be at this place again so soon—buying presents for my significant other’s family, balancing family time and relationship time while squeezing friendship in there too. After being in a long distance relationship for several years, it’s so refreshing and honestly so relieving to have my partner at my side almost all the time. Burrito Boy and I have nearly become inseparable, to the point where when he leaves every day for work I miss him even though I know I’ll see him at the end of the day.
It’s kind of gross, I know, yadda yadda, I’m in love. But now I get it. I thought long distance was super easy, but now that I’ve experienced this kind of closeness, the idea of long distance makes my heart ache. How did I do it for so long before?
Honestly? Now that I know what it feels like to be this in tune with someone, I don’t really know. Sometimes I look back on my behaviour to see the way I managed my emotions and I realize how independent I was. And not quite independent in a good way. I shouldered most of my emotions by myself, dissecting and rationalizing, and bouncing those off of my ever-supportive friends. But for the most part, my mentality and idea of self was not really of a person who is in a relationship. I was very lonely and I didn’t feel supported in a way a partner should.
Nowadays, Burrito Boy is constantly a factor. What are we having for dinner? What are we doing on the weekend? Chores become easier, nights seem cozier, mundane tasks seem infinitely more interesting. A boring night of me staying home and working becomes kind of nice as Burrito Boy sits next to me and peruses Reddit while I write articles about produce and manage social media accounts for clients. We spent two hours at Costco the other day and frankly, it was really fun. Who knew that finding toilet paper at a great value would be so exciting. Adulting, right?!
But for the first time ever, I’m excited for Christmas. Making traditions, singing Christmas carols, trekking between families for gatherings, even the infuriatingly complicated task of gift giving seems less daunting with Burrito Boy by my side. Maybe it’s all the positive thinking and conscious effort to be happier that seems to exponentially make everything rose-coloured. I’m trying to develop better habits to understand myself and lead a happier and more productive life. If anyone is interested in that, check out Gretchen Rubin’s podcast: Happier, or her books The Happiness Project and Better Than Before: Mastering the Habits of Our Everyday Lives. It’s very inspiring and practical at the same time. While I’m still a pretty disorganized mess, I recognize my more destructive habits and aspire to stop them.
This post is a part of the Canadian Blogger’s Christmas Collaboration! I met up with a bunch of Canadian bloggers at Food Bloggers of Canada Conference this year and it’s been so nice to meet other Canadian bloggers! We’re all so spread out that it’s hard to meet up face to face. Some of my US blogger friends live in the same city, so they’ll post playdates with their kids or just random hangouts at different eateries. I wish I had friends who were closer—now that I live just west of Toronto, it takes me about an hour to get into the city to hang out. I’ve met up with Sam from It Doesn’t Taste Like Chicken and Gen from Gratitude and Greens and it’s been amazing to get to know them and feel a kinship about what its like to be a blogger who’s obsessed with food.
Check out these classic holiday recipe posts from my Canadian blog friends. They’re not vegan, but for anyone who isn’t vegan, it might be nice to spread the traffic love. Besides, it’s even easier than ever to veganize recipes now, so who I’m sure you can easily convert some of these recipes to plant-based versions!
- Apple Cider Cake with Salted Caramel Sauce by One Tough Cookie
- Butterscotch Peanut Butter Marshmallow Squares by My Kitchen Love
- Caribbean Sorrel by Chew Street
- Chocolate Truffle Hedgehogs by Cocoa Bean, The Vegetable
- Coco-Kalikimaka Cookies by The Chewy Life
- Crispy Chocolate Peanut Butter Bars by The Cinnamon Scrolls
- Gingerbread Cake with Maple Whipped Cream (Vegan) by The Refreshanista
- Gingerbread Cake with Warm Caramel Glaze by Eat, Live, & Play
- Peppermint Chocolate Snowball Truffles by The Busy Baker
- Polish Gingerbread Cookies (Pierniczki Tradycyjne) by Liv for Cake
This week is going to be a busy week on the blog! Lots of recipes to come this month, and I have a fun little project coming up in the new year that might be fun for you folks. Hope your holiday isn’t too hectic so far and that you find an hour or so to make some vegan caramel popcorn. It makes a great hostess gift or potluck snack, and people always love a tin of this stuff for holiday exchanges.
Vegan Caramel Popcorn
- 3 batches of stovetop popcorn (or just pop 3/4 cups of popcorn kernels)
- 3/4 cup vegan butter
- 1 cup packed brown sugar
- 1/2 tsp baking soda
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 1 tsp fleur de sel or 1/4 tsp table salt or 1/2 tsp kosher salt (OMIT if using salted butter)
- Preheat oven to 250ºF (120ºC), use convection mode if you have it, otherwise you'll need to do two pans separately or just switch them halfway through baking.
- Prepare two pans with parchment paper or a silpat and set aside.
- Pop the 3/4 cups of popcorn kernels—you should have about 12 cups of popcorn. Transfer to a large mixing bowl.
- In a small pan, melt butter and add brown sugar. Stir continuously and cook over medium-high heat until the mixture bubbles and rises a little bit, about 3 minutes of boiling. If you have a candy thermometer, remove the pot from heat at around 275ºF (135ºC). Stir in baking soda, vanilla extract, and if you used unsalted butter, add the salt. Stir to incorporate and then pour over the popped corn. Stir to coat, then transfer to prepared baking sheets, spreading evenly. If you're using a convection oven, bake both sheets for an hour, stirring once halfway through. If using a conventional oven, you can bake them both at the same time but halfway through, stir and switch the placements of the pans so that the top one also gets heat from the bottom.
**If you find your caramel is grainy, your heat might have been a little too high and some of the sugar might have recrystalized in the cooking process. It'll still taste good but the grainy texture isn't ideal.
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Mel @ The Refreshanista says
I totally understand the pains of long-distance relationships! My fiancé and I have been apart for the past 3 1/2 years as I finish my degree at a university the next province over. We are very much looking forward to spending more time together than just the summer months or occasional long weekend :) I think it makes us appreciate our time together even more though! As for this popcorn- it looks super delicious! That first picture- yummmm.
Lisa Le says
Thanks Mel! In theory, it really should make you appreciate your time together and make you two stronger. That’s amazing that you two have stuck it together. ^_^
Alanna @ One Tough Cookie says
Lisa, the story you shared is even sweeter than your recipe! Wishing you & the Burrito Boy a very Merry Christmas, and all the best for the new year!
Lisa Le says
Thanks Alanna =) Best wishes to you too!
Amanda | The Cinnamon Scrolls says
I totally get the long distance ache. My boyfriend and I have been doing long distance for the past four years. We spent the year together last year when I was travelling around Australia, but we’re back at it this year until we can making something work! It’s rough. I’m so happy for you and Burrito Boy, Lisa! Having someone there can really brighten up your holidays and perspective! Thank you so much for being part of our collab even though we didn’t post Vegan recipes! Your popcorn looks incredible! So much caramelly goodness!
Lisa Le says
Ugh long distance is the worst. After doing it for several years I don’t think I have the strength to do it anymore. Good for you for making it work!
Lisa, your post completely resonated with me and my personal experience of being in a long distance relationship. I’ve had snippets of that bliss you are currently feeling of being so close to your S.O. when I am able to spend my summers with him. It’s always a struggle to be able to establish that routine and thinking of the both of us as one unit, and it’s always devastating when summer is over, and I have to go back to waking alone everyday, and planning meals for one. I’m so happy for you and Burrito Boy, and hope that you guys have a wonderful Christmas making traditions :)
Lisa Le says
You’re so lucky that you got to spend the summers with your guy. With my ex, it was 3 years of mostly random long weekends, and once I started working from home, I was able to go visit for a week at a time but it was still tough to have to lead separate lives whenever we’d part.
Thanks for the happy vibes, we are having lots of fun indeed =) I hope you get to spend some QT with your SO this Christmas!
One of my good friends is a vegan; this recipe will be the perfect gift for her when I see her next week!
Lisa Le says
^_^ yay! Spreading the vegan love!
Is there a prize for most romantic recipe??? :-) Thanks for sharing Lisa – love the story and the recipe. It was great collaborating with you!
Lisa Le says
Aw haha, I tend to write about my personal life on here. It was great collaborating with you too!
I made a vegan friend’s year, I think, when I discovered that vegan caramel is really not hard to make, and the substitutions of vegan margarine or whatever and vegan “milk” behave pretty much exactly the way the non-vegan ones do in this context. I love when the substitutions are that easy.
Don and I always figured that our first two years of almost entirely long-distance is part of what helped make us so tight, but I wouldn’t want to do it again. Almost did, when I was planning to go to grad school in Switzerland, but I was really not looking forward to that part of it, as I’ve gotten awfully used to having him around all the time. Here’s to having someone you like enough that near-constant exposure is still not enough to annoy you. :)
Samantha @mykitchenlove says
Well now I have a popcorn to make and eat with all my Christmas movies! And my bff is vegan so I’m going to send her this recipe stat!
I love this post :) My husband and I did a year of long distance (3 months of it while he was on a different continent) before we got married and since then we have only ever spent a handful of nights apart. And we’ll be married 11 years this Friday!!
Olivia @ livforcake says
Ahhh, I love this story! It totally hits home for me. My husband and I did long distance for 4 months early on in our relationship. It was horrible, heartbreaking, and I hope to never have to do it again. And I totally get the “fun” 2 hour Costco trips (though perhaps my husband would beg to differ on the “fun” part ;)). It’s so refreshing to be comforted by the fact that you’re just in the same room together. We’re the same way. I miss him when he goes to work (laaaaame, but you get it). Still after knowing each other for over 10 years, I would choose his company over anyone else.
And, this popcorn? Legit delicious. Hook me up!!
it was v yummy !
i accidentally put all the caramel ingredients in at once but it turned out fine anyways. and it only took like 30 mins??? YAAS vegan junk food is life, honestly
xie xie from fl
Well, it was quite a disaster ;) The sugar in caramel didn’t ‘melt’ and the caramel turned out to be just sugar mixed with butter…
Lisa Le says
I’m sorry it didn’t turn out for you! If the sugar doesn’t melt, it typically means it hasn’t cooked long enough.
I’m planning on making this for my little guy’s birthday party. He has a severe dairy allergy so this will be perfect. Question: do you know how long it will last after baked? I don’t want to have to cook it all the day of the party as I’ll have 25,000 other things to do.
Lisa Le says
I think I kept it in an airtight container for about a day or two before it got that like stale-ish popcorny texture haha. But I also don’t coat my popcorn super heavily in the caramel, if you reduced the amount of popcorn that I used in this recipe, more of it would be coated in sugar and it might last longer, if that makes any sense =P