Sunday, December 12, 2010

Vegan chocolate-covered salted caramels

 Over thanksgiving, my family (non-vegans) were eating salted caramels and I was jealous the whole time. The last time I attempted to make caramel sauce, it turned out horrible. I didn't realize that caramel is all about the temperature. So, I bought a digital thermometer, so that I could experiment with vegan candy-making.

While looking for a vegan salted caramel recipe, I found a great-looking recipe on New Vegan Table.
Despite being incredibly in vogue in the rest of the food world, salted caramels seem to have bypassed vegans. I have long been interested in candy making, and making caramels has been on my list of things to do. The fact that no one seems to be making them made me think there was something I was missing...something that would make veganizing them tricky or impossible. In my library of vegan cookbooks, I had seen endless lists of cookies, cakes, brownies, ice creams, can even a custard or two, but very little candy work. What few “caramel” sauces, and the like, that I had come across were concoctions of brown sugar and corn syrup and involved little to no caramelization what so ever, or, they were recipes with even stranger mixes of ingredients like tahini and peanut butter. What was I missing? Well, I found out this week: absolutely nothing. While working with melted sugar can be a little tricky, you will get the hang of it. These little sweets will hence forth remain a staple in my repertoire, especially for gift giving occasions, as I think they are a little easier (not to mention considerably cheaper) than making truffles.

Vegan chocolate-covered salted caramels

1 Cup unsweetened MimicCreme
5 Tbsp Earth Balance
2 tsp sea salt, plus more for sprinkling on top
1 1/2 Cup granulated sugar (I used evaporated cane juice)
1/4 Cup agave nectar
1/4 Cup water

You Will Also need

Candy thermometer
Line the bottom and sides of an 8×8 baking dish with parchment paper and lightly oil the parchment.
In a small sauce pan combine the MimicCream, Earth Balance and 2 tsp of salt. Bring to a boil, remove from heat and set aside.
In a large, heavy bottomed sauce pan combine sugar, agave, and water over high heat. Stir until the sugar has melted then bring to a boil, swirling the pan but not stirring. Bring to boil and let cook, without stirring, until the sugar begins to turn a golden brown, about 248°f on a candy thermometer. Carefully stir in the cream mixture – it will bubble up – and simmer, stirring frequently, for 10-15 min until the mixture reaches 248°f on a candy thermometer. Remove from heat and poor into prepared baking dish. Let cool in refrigerator at least 2 hours until set.
Cut caramels into one inch squares, sprinkle with remaining salt, and wrap in 4 inch squares of parchment.

 Creme mixture
 My new glittery spatula, which can withstand 800 degrees!
Sugar mixture
Measuring the temperature with my new digital thermometer (notice it says CHICK, ha)
I got the caramel up to 250 degrees....the temperature goes up really fast
The mixture is poured into a lined baking sheet
Before the caramel set, I swirled some in a glass and poured hot chocolate with a sprinkling of sea salt
I cut the caramels and put them on a plate...bad move. These puppies need to be on a non-stick surface, like parchment paper
Caramel close-up
With a little sea salt on top
They look so cute wrapped in parchment paper
Heat up some vegan baking chocolate (semi sweet or dark will work)
I just poured the warm chocolate on the caramels and sprinkled some sea salt on top
Close-up of these beauties
Finished product...mmmmmmmmmm!

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