Friday, December 6, 2013

Whisky-Sriracha Caramel Corn

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Time: 1 hour, 15 minutes
Yields: 1 2/3 cups caramel sauce

Several weeks ago, I went to Fomu in Allston and tried their salted caramel ice cream. Even though I was stuffed from dinner (a vegan po' boy and unnecessary but delicious hush puppies) earlier at Root around the corner, I consumed the hilariously large ice cream and instantly became obsessed with salted caramel. In the following weeks, when I would see prepared salted caramel in grocery stores, I'd snatch it up to read the ingredients, knowing full well it wouldn't be vegan, yet still hoping that it somehow it would be. But, no. 

And then I thought: how hard could veganizing caramel be? Earth Balance can easily stand in for butter, but could cashew cream stand in for dairy cream? Why, yes!

I made my first batch with all of the ingredients listed below, except the whisky and sriracha, and it tasted amazing: rich and buttery, without being sticky or too sweet. But I wanted to introduce these two things into my second batch just to see what would happen. The whisky delivered a subtle kiss of smoke on contact, while the sriracha rounded everything out with a gentle slap of spice at the end. The flavor was addictive without being too aggressive, making this a unique snack that's perfect to gift to another or keep for yourself.  

1/2 cup raw cashews, soaked in water overnight 
1/4 cup water
1 TB whisky
1 TB sriracha
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp baking soda
1/3 cup Earth Balance
2/3 cup brown sugar
16 cups fresh-popped unsalted and unflavored popcorn
1/3 cup peanuts

Preheat your oven to 225 °F

Drain the soaked cashews, rinse, then blend with the 1/4 cup water until smooth. Set aside.

Whisk the whisky, sriracha, salt and baking soda together. Set aside.

Melt the vegan butter in a medium-sized saucepan over medium heat. Add in the brown sugar and whisk continuously for about 3 minutes, taking care not to let it burn—and watch out for any sugar sputters!

Remove from the heat. Add the whisky, sriracha, salt and baking soda mixture to it. It will bubble and steam vigorously. 

Once settled, add the cashew cream to the saucepan and stir until combined. 

Place the popcorn into a large prep bowl. Drizzle about half of the caramel over the top, then gently stir with a wooden spoon to coat. Throw the peanuts over the top, then drizzle the remaining caramel over top and gently stir again.

Transfer to a baking sheet in a single layer. Bake for 1 hour, gently stirring it around after 30 minutes and scraping the bottom to prevent burning. 

Remove from the oven and let it rest on the baking sheet for a few minutes, then gently separate it by gently scraping the bottom of the sheet with a metal spatula. Allow it to cool and set a bit more on the baking sheet for about 15 minutes, then transfer it to an airtight container or serve immediately.


  1. This sounds so good! I'm a sriracha addict and I love that you added it to (vegan!) caramel corn. Also, Fomu...incredible. I need to go back there, and try Root as well!

    1. Thank you Amanda! I can't believe I just found out about Fomu only a short time ago, and Root is such a gem!

  2. I love sriracha too, and am a new fan of whiskey. Kind of like how you've been feeling about salted caramel, I feel about whiskey. Your timing couldn't be better.

  3. Wow! This looks amazing! Just wondering if it really is 16 cups of popcorn or if that's an error. Would love to make this for the weekend!

    1. Thanks Jillian. I used 16 cups here, and it's lightly coated, but you can always start with half that and coat more as desired. I hope you enjoy!

  4. This looks and sounds wonderful! Hubby is a Sriracha addict and would love this, thanks!

  5. oh this looks divine - just right to make and take to friends for Christmas:) If any survives the tasting process, that is!

  6. Um, I would like to have a slap of spice in my face with this!! It's funny, my blog readers really know that I like spicy shit - I got this emailed to me several times this week! Love it!

  7. what are the cashews soaked in overnight?

    1. They are soaked in water -- I updated the ingredient list to reflect that!

  8. Coconut cream works well in vegan caramel too - if you have an allergy to cashews. you can also make (and in some areas buy) condensed soy milk. This is also an excellent option.

  9. This is in the oven right now. I love the combo of a smoky whiskey, sriracha and caramel together! I had some soy creamer that I had to use up, so guessed at the final cream quantity - I think I guessed too much. The caramel was very thin so I ended up putting it back on the burner for another 10 minutes or so to thicken and reduce. Could also be that my creamer was thinner than the cashew cream would have been. The flavours are so good together - I can't wait for it to come out of the oven!

  10. Is this degree fahrenheit? Mine just burned to death. lol :D

    1. yes, it's in fahrenheit --sorry yours got burned! I've updated the instructions to be more clear.

    2. No problem :) Next badge wont burn. I still have some that are eatable and they are awesome! Thank you.

    3. LOL. Sorry, but LOL :-)

      Just made a 2 batches of this. Quite tasty, thanks. Pro-tip: allow the caramel mix to cool for a few minutes before coating the popcorn. You get a much better consistency.

    4. So happy you liked! Thanks for the tip, will try that next batch!


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