When I think Christmas I think caramel popcorn. And when I think fun DIY gifts related to such memories, I think giant caramel popcorn balls. I think they are not the easiest to eat, but they are one of the funnest.

In this DIY gift, I wrap the popcorn balls in parchment paper and tie the ends with ribbon. You could just put it in a tin can and call it a day and it would still be great. I kept mine to a pretty basic recipe (though I did add some coffee granules to elevate the burnt butter/toffee flavor), but you could add nuts, dried fruit or even drizzle the popcorn balls with chocolate in the end.

Tip: A word of caution is be careful of your hands when pressing the popcorn balls into a circle. Because you have to do it when they are fairly warm, make sure to have plastic gloves (the ones you see the man or woman at the deli or bakery counters wear). The gloves will somewhat shield you from the heat, but also keep the balls from sticking to your hands.

Vegan Caramel Popcorn Balls

(Makes 5 Medium-Sized Popcorn Balls)

  • 1/4 cup + 2 tablespoons unpopped popcorn
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 2 tablespoons Earth Balance butter
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup corn syrup
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt, plus more for sprinkling
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1/2 teaspoon instant coffee
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda

Directions

  1. Heat vegetable oil in a pan and pop popcorn according to package instructions.
  2. In a pot, heat Earth Balance, brown sugar and corn syrup over medium high heat until a candy thermometer reads 240 degrees Fahrenheit, which will be about 3 minutes. Turn heat off and mix in the salt, vanilla, instant coffee and baking soda.
  3. Pour caramel mixture into the warm popcorn and stir until all the popcorn is coated.
  4. Wearing disposable plastic gloves, carefully press the popcorn into 4-inch diameter balls. Let cool on a sheet pan with parchment paper.
  5. Sprinkle with sea salt.