Most of the time I’m happy to share the recipes I come up with on the blog, but this time there was something in me that thought I should just keep this one a secret and perhaps profit off of starting a caramel business. The caramels came out that good. I didn’t exactly re-invent the wheel with my recipe, however I was just amazed at how amazing the caramels turned out, and no “real” butter or cream was used.
You might ask “why bother making my own caramels when I can buy delicious ones in the store? I’m here to tell you: bother. There’s nothing more satisfying than to see that sugary liquid turn into a golden brown and the liquid magically transform into chewy, delightful caramel. Making your own candy for the holidays is magical; it brings extra joy to the house and since it’s not perfect looking or uniform in size, extra charming too!
I used my tried and true Earth Balance for butter and to replace the heavy cream I used full fat coconut milk. For those of you who are not crazy about coconut don’t fret, there is absolutely no coconut flavor left in the finished product, only the creamy, rich thickness reminiscent of cream.
Norwegians have a love for many things caramel flavored. Of course we have the best chocolate covered caramel candy, but there is also “karamellpudding”, our flan /creme caramel/creme brulee, and all kinds of caramelized almonds and fudge we put on our decadent cakes.
During Christmas, it’s customary in many homes to make your own caramels. It wasn’t in my house growing up, but it’s a tradition I’m happy to adopt. While I’m not one to eat candy on a weekly basis, I allow myself a little extra during the holidays and I also think it makes for a wonderful gift. Personally I find it much more touching to get a gift that somebody took time out to make rather than get a gift gard or some other no name present. Then again, it’s also the thought that counts …
You can flavor the caramels with chocolate, vanilla, cardamom and anything else you desire… I decided to just make them plain this time and topped them with some coconut flakes and walnuts. Yum!
For the below recipe you will need 2 sauce pans; a smaller 2 quart pan (2 liters), and a larger 4 quart (4 liter) pan., as well as a candy thermometer or an instant thermometer you can read the temperature of the sugar mixture. This is important for the success of the recipe! Here’s my candy thermometer at work:
VEGAN CHRISTMAS CARAMELS
1 x 13 oz (about 400g) can full fat coconut milk
4 tablespoons vegan butter
1/4 tsp salt
1 1/2 cup (3.5 dl) organic sugar
1 cup (2.5dl) organic light brown sugar
heaping 1/3 cup (1 dl) organic light corn syrup
1 tsp vanilla extract or vanilla pasta
Dress an 8×8 baking dish with parchment paper, leaving some paper hanging over the edges. Brush the paper with a little oil and set aside.
Heat the coconut milk, butter, and salt in the 2-quart saucepan until the butter melts. Remove from heat.
Combine the sugar, corn syrup, and water in the larger 4-quart saucepan, and stir until the sugar is blended in and you have a thick grainy paste. Clip the instant-read thermometer to the side of the pan so that the heat sensor is immersed in the sugar. Don’t stir the sugar after this point. (Note: The sugar will bubble up and increase in volume when you add the cream which is why you use a larger pan.)
Place the pot with the sugar mixture over medium to medium-high heat. Let the sugar syrup come to a boil without stirring. When the syrup reaches anywhere between 250°F and 325°F (125-165 degrees Celcius), turn off the heat and carefully pour in the coconut milk-butter mix while whisking. Once it has been added, return the pan to medium-high heat and let the caramel come to a boil without stirring. Remove from heat when caramel reaches about 245-250 Fahreneheit (120-125 degrees Celcius) and quickly whisk in the vanilla before pouring the caramels into the prepared baking pan.
Place the caramels aside for at least a couple of hours or overnight. Once the caramels have cooled down, you can cover the pan. When the caramels have set you can remove it from the pan and peel off parchment paper and using a sharp knife, cut into small squares. Top with anything you desire. Store in an airtight container – keeps for about 2 weeks (but I doubt they will last that long!).