Holidays are nuts. There are the usual suspects–gift shopping, Christmas card writing and holiday parties. On top of that, we’ve been preparing (read: procrastinating) for a 16-day trip to Kenya and Tanzania. That doesn’t leave us too much time for festive baking.
I did get to make a few holiday treats this year: cardamom palmiers and caramel-date ice cream. We even revived the skillet chocolate chip cookie.
But, what’s an airplane-friendly, healthy treat that tastes like Christmas and will get us through a 20+ hour flight to Nairobi? Popcorn of course! This is so easy and salty-sweet delicious. The molasses makes this less cloying than normal caramel corn recipes.
Gingerbread Caramel Popcorn
Adapted from It’s Just Laine.
- About 16 cups of popped popcorn (about 2/3 cups unpopped kernels). I used this stove-top method to cook the popcorn.
- 3/4 cup packed brown sugar
- 1 stick of butter
- 1/3 cup of 100% maple syrup
- 1/4 cup of molasses
- 1 1/2 teaspoon of ginger
- 1 teaspoon of cinnamon
- 1/2 teaspoon of nutmeg
- 1/2 teaspoon of cloves
- 1/2 teaspoon of salt
- 1/2 teaspoon of baking soda
- 1 teaspoon of vanilla extract
- Sea Salt (optional)
1. Preheat oven to 300 degrees. Prepare two baking sheets with parchment paper. Sprinkle popcorn with salt while still warm. Divide popcorn onto the two baking sheets so that there’s a fairly even layer on both pans.
2. Add brown sugar, butter, maple syrup, molasses, spices and salt. Bring to a boil over medium heat, stirring constantly. Boil without stirring for five minutes.
3. Remove from heat and stir in baking soda and vanilla. Note: it will foam. Quickly ladle over popcorn and mix well. If desired, give the popcorn a very light sprinkling of salt.
4. Bake at 300 degrees for 10 minutes. Remove pans from oven and stir well, mixing and turning the popcorn with a spatula. Return pans to the oven and rotate their position.
5. Bake for 5 more minutes and stir again. Return pans to the oven, rotating placement once again. Close the oven door, turn off the oven, and allow the popcorn to rest for 20 minutes or for as long as overnight. I really enjoyed them right out of the oven, slightly cooled and tossed with almonds. They make your house smell like Christmas. Store in giant ziplock bag.