Honey Caramel Popcorn Balls {Sugar-Free Caramel Corn}

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Oh, sweet Caramel.
Such a beautifully, buttery sweetness, melting on my tongue; oh my caramel, how I do love thee.

On our journey to sugar-free eating, I wondered if I would ever achieve quite the same delight I had always so loved in the flavor of caramel but in a healthier allergy-friendly version. I now wonder no more. This caramel popcorn is so delicious! And it is the perfect recipe as the holiday season commences. Perfect for the Halloween treat-table, or to gift for the holidays.

{dairy-free, sugar-free, additive-free, clean eating ingredients!   mmmm, mmmm, good}
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This caramel is simply made with honey instead of over-processed, highly-refined brown-cane-sugar. I molded mine into these kid-friendly popcorn balls and we so enjoy the treat. From our happy kitchen to yours, we hope you enjoy this recipe as much as we do.

6 cups popped organic non-gmo popcorn
1/3 cup coconut oil
1/2 (generous) cup raw honey
1 1/2 tablespoons blackstrap molasses
1/2 teaspoon real salt
1/2 teaspoon baking soda***
1 teaspoon pure vanilla

***If making popcorn balls, OMIT the baking soda and add 1/4 cup of water to the liquid mixture.

Heat in a saucepan over medium-high heat the oil, honey & molasses ***(and 1/4 cup of water if you will be making popcorn BALLS as opposed to just caramel popcorn).

Bring to a boil , then turn heat down to medium and cook for 4-5 minutes without stirring.

Remove heat source and:
OPTION 1 for caramel corn: stir in the salt, baking soda***, and vanilla. The caramel will fluff and rise like a delicious science experiment.
Pour over the popped popcorn and stir to coat the popcorn as evenly as possible. Do this with a bit of finesse, as the caramel will be very hot!  Fold out onto a parchment lined baking sheet.
Bake at 250 for 45 minutes, stirring every 15 minutes

OPTION 2 for Popcorn Balls: stir in the salt and vanilla.
Pour over the popped popcorn and stir to coat the popcorn as evenly as possible. Do this with a bit of finesse, as the caramel will be very hot!
When the caramel corn has cooled enough to be comfortable to handle, form your popcorn balls. Let cool completely ~ if you can keep your hands off of them long enough!

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Apple Cider Gummy Bears

Apple Cider Gummy Bears

2 cups organic Apple Cider
3 Tablespoons Gelatin

Simmer the cider down to 1 cup liquid. Thoroughly mix in your gelatin until there are no more lumps.
Let cool almost to room temperature and pour into molds.  I found these molds here.

Also, see the cherry bears for another flavor option. These are super fun and very yummy! It can also be a fun vessel for vitamins or probiotics. Happy Eating!

* I added extra cinnamon to the cider just for more fall flavor. So yummy!

Salted Maple Candy {Sugar-Free}

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A gluten-free, sugar-free Halloween Treat.

This week, Autumn is in an upswing, as we just turned the calendar page over to my favorite month of the year, OCTOBER! I can’t quite put into words why I am so enchanted with October, except to say that there is something majestically promising about the changes that are always in October’s air. There is comfort in the crispness and fancy in each fall-breeze, as if magic is blowing through my bones. Collections of birds can be caught on their migration paths. So many birds! Kind of creepy, yet mesmerizing. Leaves turn to those golden Autumn hues. We all watch as nature shifts to protection -mode, and the shear fact that it all happens so fluently and artfully makes me feel grounded and cozy.  It seems like each day of October is a giddy anticipation of the playful holiday that punctuates the month {for those who celebrate it} and kicks off the “holiday season”! Now, more than ever, too,  I have such an intimate connection to Halloween, because just last year , at about 10:30 on Halloween morning, our little family welcomed to the world our 3rd little squirrel in the nut-bunch. And his birth was such a cozy affair, gentle and peaceful and natural and wonderful. Yes, October is absolutely my favorite month of the year.

So, if you have read any of my other posts, you know that we are a sugar-free family. You can find some great selections, now, of candies that are chemcial-dye-free and high-fructose- corn-syrup (hfc) free; but, it is tough to find cane-sugar-free candies, I have to say.

On this fine fall morning, I was dreaming of salted caramel. My little wheels got to turning about the little maple candies that I usually buy for my munchkins to have around this time of year, and I got a whim to create my own “Salted Maple Candies”.

This recipe, like most candy recipes, takes a special touch and some caressing ~ but it IS NOT difficult to make. It is actually very simple if you follow the directions well and stay on top of it. If I can do this with an 11 month old on my hip half the time and a five year old chanting,”Is it done yet” on repeat ~ well….you get the picture.

Now, I tend to get excited about special food finds, and last weekend, as you may have read in this post, my husband and I shopped am artisan oiler. There, we picked up some maple-infused aged-balsamic vinegar {yum! yum! yum!}, as well as some vanilla bean sea salt. These are merely options for this candy, and I will put them in the recipe here as such, but these candies will work just as well with more readily available ingredients in their same category, so please don’t feel like this in one of those recipes that you have to spend tons of money on crazy ingredients for in order for this to even work. Not so. Plain ol’ maple syrup and sea salt will work just fine!

Salted Maple Candies

2 cups Pure Organic Maple Syrup (I use Grade B)
1 tablespoon maple balsamic vinegar (optional!)
1-2 teaspoons vanilla bean sea salt, or any course ground sea salt

1) Bring your maple syrup and vinegar to a boil over medium-low to medium heat until a candy thermometer reads 235 degrees fahrenheit, stirring occasionally. I used a medium-sized stainless steel saucepan.

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2) Remove from heat or turn off gas and let sit WITHOUT STIRRING until the temperature cools to 175 degrees fahrenheit. (10-15 minutes)

3) Now, take a wooden spoon (wooden spoons are less likely to cause drastic temperature changes to your sensitive mixture) and briskly stir the cooled syrup for 4-5 minutes, until the color gets light and the consistency is thick and smooth. {Note, I did not get a picture of this because this is a time sensitive part of the recipe. As the candy cools, it will harden quite quickly so you should move as quickly as possible here}

4) Either transfer the mixture to candy molds now until your candies cool completely, or, if you are feeling adventurous, try my method:

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Transfer the thickened mixture, carefully as it will still be hot, to a piping bag (you may use a ziplock if that is all you have and snip off the end). Carefully and quickly pipe out nickle-sized dots and then pull up, to get a sort of “chocolate chip” shape. Again, work quickly as your candy will start to harden. I piped mine onto a silpat (silicone baker’s mat), but parchment will work just as beautifully. I like the uneven shapes of doing these by hand, and my goal was to make the candies look like witches hats, some standing straight up, some flopping over, and some just plain weird. Hey ~ afterall, its HALLOWEEN. 🙂

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5) If you work quickly enough, your candies might still be wet enough for a sprinkle of coarse salt to stick. If not, simply brush the tops with a tiny amount of maple syrup and then sprinkle your salt to the tops of your candies.  I used a Madagascar vanilla bean infused sea salt.

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They are bewitchingly delicious and sickningly sweet {exactly how Halloween Candy should be!} and the texture is like a fresh candy corn. Hope you enjoy the treat.

~Happy October Eats to you and your family~
Kendra