Salted caramel must be one of the all-time best taste sensations. With the holiday season fast approaching I thought it would be fun to try making coconut sugar caramels and topping them with some beautiful finishing sea salt. There may not be such a thing as paleo candy but I suppose this comes pretty close.
We happened upon the sea salt at a food specialty store while down the Jersey Shore this past summer. The store stocked many indulgences from around the world including exotic olive oils and infused vinegars. But the Hawaiian Black Lava and Red Alaea Sea Salts caught our attention. We procured them with the hope they would find their way into a recipe deserving of their beauty and flavor.
Behold Salted Coconut Sugar Caramels!
Salted coconut sugar caramels are made with coconut sugar, coconut sap (liquid version) and coconut cream. This means the caramels have a lower glycemic index than if we had used white sugar. Does this mean that people with diabetes or weight issues should be eating this candy? I would say no. However, if you are looking for something sweet and fun as a treat, this coconut sugar caramel might be for you. They make great gifts too.
This is what your friends and loved-ones will see after opening one of your homemade salted caramels.
The taste imparted by the coconut sugar/sap is different from regular sugar. The coconut sugar is a little more like brown sugar and the coconut sap has a definite tang to it. It imparts a very distinct flavor as does the use of coconut cream. The vanilla, cinnamon and ginger serve to accent and mellow out the tanginess of the coconut sugar and the ghee gives it that smooth and creamy taste that can only be achieved with the use of dairy products. If you do not have ghee or prefer a vegan option you can try it with coconut oil which will give it a more distinctly coconut flavor.
The first time I made this salted caramel I only cooked it to 250 degrees F before immediately pouring it into the pan to set. It created a very soft finished product that was delicious but hard to work with. I reheated the caramel and allowed it to go to 265 or 270 and quickly poured it out into the prepared pan. This created a soft caramel that held its shape. The next time I made the coconut sugar caramel I let it go to 270 and it stayed there for a few minutes. This created a much harder finished caramel. G actually preferred this version and my boys did as well, likening it to the texture of a tootsie roll. Personally, I liked the slightly softer version the best and thought it was much easier to handle and cut.
Salted Coconut Sugar Caramels
Inspired by Not Without Salt.
- 1 1/2 cups coconut sugar
- 1 cup coconut nectar (sap)
- 1 cup coconut cream (fat from one can of full fat coconut milk)
- 3 tablespoons ghee (or pastured butter or coconut oil)
- 1/2 vanilla bean
- 3/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
- Finishing Sea Salt of choice (I used Hawaiian Red Alaea and Hawaiian Black Lava)
You will need a candy thermometer to monitor the temperature of the caramel.
- Prepare a 9 inch square baking pan by covering with oil then a layer of parchment paper.
- Combine the coconut sugar, coconut sap, coconut cream, ghee, cinnamon and ginger in a large pot. Scrape the seeds out of the vanilla bean and add them to the pan along with the vanilla bean itself. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Watch closely so the mixture doesn’t boil over and use a candy thermometer to monitor the temperature. Cook over medium-high heat, stirring often until you reach hard-ball stage (250 degrees). This should take about 20-30 minutes (or more depending on how high your heat). Remove the vanilla bean. If you want a harder caramel you can cook to higher temp (270 degrees). (You may have to lower the temperature to ensure the candy does not scorch.)
- Pour caramel into the prepared pan and allow it to cool until completely set. (You can put it in the refrigerator to speed up the process)
- Invert the caramels onto a parchment covered cutting board, sprinkle with finishing sea salt of choice then cut caramel into desired size. Individually wrap the coconut sugar caramels in wax paper and then decorative paper of choice.
- Store in an airtight container at room temperature up to 2 weeks.
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