Happy Valentine’s Day, pals!
I made you something sweet if you’re madly in love. Spicy if you’ve been a busy — wink — lady or gentleman. Crunchy if you’ve weathered a romantic storm or two and need a treat. Tart and fruity, if you are like me and have no problem enjoying a fine single-life Saturday like any other fine single-life Saturday.
Oh, and vegan, if you’re well, vegan. Animal welfare is hella romantic if you ask me. (Then again, I say the same about beef heart. Multitudes!)
Coconut oil is my favorite corn-popping oil, so this is really just a souped-up version of that, with added lushness from coconut cream. That’s the thick stuff that rises to the top in a can of coconut milk if you refrigerate it, and Trader Joe’s has taken to selling it on its own, because TJ is in the business of making my wildest dreams come true.
Speaking of TJ’s, that’s also where you can find freeze-dried raspberries. Target has them, too, and they’re fantastic: crunchy, full of tart flavor, and available out of season (obviously).
There isn’t a ton of coconut flavor in here (because hello there, chipotle), so you could just as easily use butter and cream if that’s your jam.
I think this might be my new favorite thing, and the ideas keep rolling in. Orange zest, cardamom, pistachio caramel corn. Shredded coconut and candied ginger caramel corn. Miso and black sesame caramel corn, with dried ramen bits for good measure? Yes we can. We’re a bunch of mad scientists.
(Please make those, because I’m too harebrained for that kind of follow-through.)
However you celebrate, I hope your Saturday treats you right. I’ll be strolling to the farmer’s market with a cappuccino to buy all the rhubarb I can carry and I’m pretty sure it’s going to be swell.
- 3/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons coconut oil, divided
- 1/2 cup popping corn
- 3/4 cup granulated sugar
- 1/2 cup coconut cream (available at Trader Joe's; you may also refrigerate a can of full-fat coconut milk and skim off the thick, rich stuff that gathers at the top)
- 1 teaspoon dried chipotle powder
- Pinch salt
- 1 package (about 1 cup) freeze-dried raspberries, available at Trader Joe's or Target
- Preheat oven to 300 F and prepare two large cookie sheets by lining with parchment paper.
- Heat up 2 tablespoons coconut oil in a large pot over medium-high heat. Add popcorn, cover, and pop the corn, shaking pot occasionally. Remove from heat and transfer to a large bowl.
- Meanwhile, heat up the remaining 3/4 cup of coconut oil, granulated sugar, coconut cream, chipotle powder, and salt in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat. Cook until mixture is thick and bubbly, and measures around 225 F on a candy thermometer (this doesn't take long).
- Pour hot caramel over the popcorn and toss gently with a rubber spatula to coat well. Spoon popcorn onto prepared baking sheets and spread it out. Leave excess caramel sauce in the bowl. Bake for 30 minutes, stirring every 10 minutes. In the last 5 minutes of baking, stir in the freeze-dried raspberries, along with some extra caramel sauce if pan is dry.
- Transfer popcorn to a large sheet of parchment paper and cool completely before serving. Makes about 12 cups.