Oh, dates, our love for you has no bounds. We have discovered something that may just be the best use of dates known to man: date caramel.
This mixture is full of healthy ingredients and contains no processed sugar. It’s sweet, sticky, and absolutely perfect for making caramel corn. No need for butter or corn syrup — this sauce is decadent and delicious and it still retains an impressive nutritional value, which makes it even tastier!
This snack is so easy to prepare, we made it and ate it all in well under an hour. When it was all finished, it was chewy, sweet, and a little bit salty. All together, it made a great snack that we will definitely make again on a movie night with friends or during a long day of studying.
The best part of all, of course, is that this snack is much, much healthier than “real” caramel corn. First of all, we used plain old popcorn kernels in a hot air popper. No oil, no salt, no weird fake-butter. It turns out that popcorn in this state is actually quite healthy — it is a whole grain, contains polyphenols (hello, antioxidants!), and is made of a hearty amount of fiber for its small size.
The dates that are the base of the caramel are also quite impressive. A chalk full of potassium and magnesium, these sweet little fruits are the perfect ingredient to make a caramel base. The maple syrup that is added to the sauce to gives it a rich, caramel flavor also has its benefits — made up of minerals such as calcium, manganese, and zinc, it aids in immune system efficiency and provides for energy production, among other surprising functions.
Even Jenna’s little corgi, Daisy, was begging for popcorn as we made it! We may or may not have caved and gave her a few pieces… and she may have absolutely adored it!
If you’re interested in changing up your popcorn routine but would like to avoid oil, vegan butter, or other processed ingredients, look no further! This recipe will be sure to satisfy your sweet tooth in the most nutritious way possible!
Sweet Date Caramel Corn (Serves 1-2)
(Vegan, Soy Free, Oil Free)
- 1/2 cup popcorn kernels
- 1 cup of medjool dates, pitted
- 5 teaspoons almond milk
- 2 tablespoons pure maple syrup
- Preheat oven to 200°F
- Pop popcorn kernels with a hot air popper or on the stove
- In a blender, combine dates, pure maple syrup, and 3 out of 5 teaspoons of almond milk; as the mixture combines, add the remaining 2 teaspoons of almond milk until the mixture is quite gooey and thick
- Spread the caramel evenly across the bottom of an oven-safe pan. Then, slowly add popcorn, applying pressure intermittently to allow the caramel to combine with the popcorn. Once all of the popcorn has been added, carefully toss it until it is all thinly coated in caramel sauce
- Place pan in the oven for no more than 20 minutes
- Remove from oven, add a small pinch of salt (this will bring out the rich caramel flavor), and let cool for about 5 minutes
- Don’t worry if the caramel is not particularly smooth or creamy, for this recipe you want to aim for a sauce that is thicker
- Don’t attempt to saturate the popcorn in the caramel sauce — a little goes a long way in this recipe, and you only want a little bit of date sauce on each piece of popcorn, otherwise they will become extremely small and will lose their crunch