I knew I would be making regular caramels, hit as I have been with this urge to make candy (rather than bake). But again, this experimental bent made me decide to make vegan caramels as well.
First of all, I needed to get a new candy thermometer. I lost mine somewhere in my many moves. I bought two. One is vastly superior to the other, I have now learned.
Vegan caramels use coconut milk instead of cream. They were also made in an entirely different way from regular caramels (which are generally made all in one pan).
Things came together rather the way I would expect.
Here we go…
2 or so tablespoons of melted coconut oil, melted, plus more for cutting caramels
1 (16 ounce) can (about 2 cups) coconut milk
3⁄4 cup golden syrup or light corn syrup (I used golden syrup)
1 tsp. coarse sea salt
1 3⁄4 cups sugar
3⁄4 cup water
Line the bottom and sides of an 8″x8″ square baking dish with parchment and brush with coconut oil; set aside.
Combine the coconut milk, syrup and sea salt in a 4-quart (2L) saucepan. Heat over medium low, stirring constantly for 3 to 5 minutes until mixture is warm and any coconut milk clumps are dissolved. Remove from heat and set aside.
In a large saucepan, combine the sugar and the water and stir until sugar is wet. On medium-high heat, let cook without stirring until the sugar is light amber in color and a candy thermometer reads 310°F/155°C. Immediately remove from heat and pour melted sugar into the coconut milk mixture. Do this with care: the mixture will bubble and splash rather violently.
Return saucepan to medium-low heat, stirring continuously until all the caramel is dissolved. Raise the heat to medium high, stir continuously, and cook until caramel becomes quite thick and a candy thermometer reads 240°F.
Immediately remove from heat and pour into the prepared pan.
Let cool completely and cut into 1″ squares. Brush your knife with melted coconut oil between cutting to avoid sticking. Wrap individually in wax paper squares. Store at room temperature.
Well, I think this needed to be cooked a bit longer (beyond the 240F mark). I tasted it, and it tastes quite the way you’d expect – like caramel but not quite (i.e., it’s still made from coconut milk not butter and cream). But it was just too ‘runny’ in trying to cut it up, making it stringy and impossible to cut or wrap in pieces. It was just shy of being where it needed to be in terms of its solidity and texture, so this is kind of a sad and unsuccessful attempt, even if I can see that it would work if left to cook a little bit longer… better luck next time.