Sunday, September 15, 2013

Vegan, Dairy-Free Caramels? Yes please! Glenn's Coconut Caramels

Coconut Salted Caramels (Vegan)This take on the classic salted caramel replaces the milk fat of butter and cream with coconut. You will need a candy thermometer.
⦁ 1 can full-fat coconut milk (refrigerated)
⦁ 1/4 cup coconut oil (we use virgin for more coconut flavor).
⦁ 1 tsp. sea salt.
⦁ 1 1/2 cup sugar.
⦁ 1/4 cup light corn syrup
⦁ 1/4 cup water
1. Spray an 8-inch pan with cooking spray or oil, line with parchment baking paper, and then spray the surface of the paper. Fit the liner to the pan by tracing the bottom of the pan on the paper, and then notching out the corners outside of the square. This lets the paper fold up the sides without overlapping or rising out of the pan.

2. Open the refrigerated can of coconut milk and spoon all of the solidified "cream" portion from the top of the can into a microwave safe bowl, add the coconut oil and salt, then microwave for ~30 sec to 1 minute until melted. Stir the mixture until uniform and set aside for later.

3. In a large, heavy saucepan, heat the water, sugar and corn syrup over high heat until the desired caramel color is achieved.
Once the sugar has dissolved, don't stir the liquid, just swirl the pan; vigorous stirring can cause the sugar to crystalize. For regular caramels, we usually go slightly past the point where the sugar mixture starts to turn a reddish-golden color and gives off a bit of smoke. A coconut caramel can't handle this much caramel flavor, so we usually take the caramelization process to where the sugar just darkens into the red range but hasn't yet started to smoke.

4. As soon as the desired color is reached, carefully add the cream mixture to the hot sugar, stirring continuously with a long spoon.
***Folks, we aren't kidding about the long spoon. Adding the cream mixture (which contains water) to the hot sugar rapidly generates a lot of steam, which will burn your fingers good if you are too close while pouring and stirring.

5. Continue to stir the mixture as you reheat it to 248°F (120°C), which is just above "soft ball" temperature on your candy thermometer, then immediately remove this very hot molten caramel from the heat and pour into the parchment-lined pan.

6. Allow to fully cool to room temperature, which takes several hours, then cut into squares.
Squares work very well, because they can be individually wrapped in squares of waxed paper and used for snacking at parties, as gift bag stuffers, or you can unwrap and melt them to make a caramel sauce or a caramel macchiato. We use a sturdy pizza cutter to cut the caramel sheet, as a knife often doesn't "cut it."

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