1 Cup Coconut Milk (not from the can. Like Almond Milk. We use Whole Foods, organic brand)
½ cup vegan sugar
¼ cup brown sugar
1 tsp local honey
Add sugars to an unheated pan and stir together. Add remaining ingredients (coconut milk and honey) to pan and swirl to begin dissolving. If you have a rubberized whisk or similar silicon tool, gently stir sugar to dissolve. Try agitating as little as possible. Add remaining ingredients and swirl to combine.
Place pan over medium heat and leave for twenty-five minutes. Don’t stir. The mixture will start to bubble and turn a golden brown. Only lower the heat or swirl if you notice your caramel creating large bubbles or crystallizing. (See below for common caramel troubleshooting). After 20-25 minutes, with a golden, amber color, give the caramel a broad, sweeping stir with a silicon spatula. Check for consistency. It should run thickly off the spatula without breaking. If you are pleased with the texture, remove immediately from heat. You may wish to use a cold water/ice bath to stop the cooking process.
Once cooled, add to a jar and refrigerator for a couple hours to thicken. Store in the refrigerator for up to three weeks.
Caramel can be a tricky thing and can go awry quickly turning into a hardened mass or crystallizing to a hard shell. Here are some hints to prevent some common caramel fails:
Don’t heat the sugar quickly. Allow the sugar to dissolve fully (or at least the majority) before turning up the heat. Keep the heat on low to medium and let the mixture heat up slowly. I know it’s tempting to stir it, but resist. If you swirl the pan and allow the heat to
Don’t stir the sugar too much – Sugar hates to be agitated, especially while making caramel. If you stir, it can crystallize quickly. Try swirling the pan instead of stirring directly. If you start to see crystals, quickly take a pastry brush dipped in vinegar and wipe down the sides of the pan. I’ve also seen Alton Brown add a teaspoon of corn syrup to his caramel to prevent crystallizing. Oh Lady Cakes blog recommends adding Cream of Tartar to the recipe, but I leave it out because I don’t have much use for it otherwise.
It’s happened to me. I get the exact color and consistency of the caramel I want, take it off the heat, and BAM it changes as it cools in the pan from a beautiful sauce to a hardened lump. To counteract the change, I give my caramel an ice bath to shock it and stop the cooking process. Fill up your sink with ice and cold water and rest the bottom of the pan in the ice bath until it’s the same level as the sauce. This stops the cooking immediately.