Confession: I’m afraid I’m allergic to real Christmas trees, and I’m definitely allergic to busy shopping malls. Does that make me a Scrooge? The holidays are always full of cheer but hectic. I’m tempted to take a nap before I deck the halls this weekend.
If you’re wondering what to bring to your holiday party, this caramel popcorn recipe is just the ticket. It’s naturally sweetened with maple syrup, and the sauce is thickened with tahini.
If you’re familiar with Middle Eastern halva, this popcorn reminds me of it. Crackly sesame seeds and ground cinnamon make it even more irresistible. You have been warned.
As I was typing up the recipe, I realized that it is gluten free, vegan and nut free as well. This popcorn is a special diet-friendly party option and a fun holiday treat. For an even more festive popcorn recipe, check out my peppermint bark popcorn. So good!
Sesame Caramel Corn
- Prep Time: 10 minutes
- Cook Time: 15 minutes
- Total Time: 25 minutes
- Yield: 6 servings
- Category: Snack
This naturally sweetened caramel popcorn recipe is incredible! It’s made with tahini, sesame seeds and maple syrup, and tastes a little like halva. This recipe is conveniently vegan and nut free, and yields about 6 cups.
Popped popcorn, yields about 6 cups
- ⅓ cup popcorn kernels
- 1 tablespoon coconut oil or extra-virgin olive oil
Tahini caramel corn
- 6 cups popped popcorn
- ½ cup real maple syrup
- 3 tablespoons tahini
- 1 ½ teaspoons vanilla extract
- ¼ teaspoon fine sea salt
- ¼ teaspoon cinnamon, plus more for sprinkling
- 2 tablespoons sesame seeds
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper.
- Pop the popcorn: First, place a large mixing bowl near the stove. Pour the oil into a large, heavy-bottomed pan with a lid. Turn the heat up to medium, add 2 kernels of corn, and cover. Once the kernels pop, remove the lid and pour in the remaining popcorn kernels. Cover the pot and give the pot a little shimmy to distribute the kernels evenly.
- Cook over medium heat, shaking the pot occasionally. Crack the lid just a smidge so the popcorn stays crisp, and cook until the popping sound slows to about one pop per every few seconds. Remove the pan from heat and dump the popcorn your bowl, taking care not to pour in any unpopped kernels at the bottom of the pot. If necessary, pick out any unpopped kernels that made it into the bowl with a spoon.
- Meanwhile, to make the sauce: In a small, heavy-bottomed saucepan, bring the maple syrup to a boil over medium heat. Keep a watchful eye on the syrup and continue boiling for 2 minutes and 30 seconds, reducing heat only if necessary to prevent overflow. Remove the pot from heat.
- Add the tahini, vanilla extract, salt and cinnamon to the pot of maple syrup. Whisk until well blended, then drizzle the maple mixture over the popcorn. Gently toss with a rubber spatula or big spoon until well mixed. Pour the popcorn onto the parchment-covered baking sheet and arrange it in a single layer. Evenly sprinkle sesame seeds over the popcorn.
- Bake the popcorn for 6 minutes, then rotate the pan and cook for another 2 minutes. Remove from oven and sprinkle with additional cinnamon and salt, to taste. The popcorn will continue to crisp up as it cools. Once it’s cool, break the popcorn into pieces (or leave them in chunks!) and serve.
- This popcorn stays crisp for up to 3 days in an air-tight container.
Change it up: Any nut butter can be substituted for the tahini (peanut butter, almond butter, cashew butter, etc.). You can also omit or replace the sesame seeds with chopped nuts of your choice.