One thing that I have most missed in my vegan diet is caramel - I have always loved caramel and caramel & chocolate is truly an awesome treat. After looking over many many recipes for vegan caramels - many from a Daring Bakers challenge - I realized - it's a lot of guess work. Despite the fact that the top of my candy thermometer (no, not granddad's candy thermometer, mom!) busted off after arriving at the cabin this weekend - it still worked well enough for me to use in my first experiment with vegan caramels.
A major discrepancy was in the amount of invert syrup/agave to sugar, and the temperatures required. The bottom line is this - for soft caramels, you really want somewhere between soft and firm ball - you don't want more because you'll end up with something that will pull out fillings and crowns.
Here's my recipe - your mileage may vary, you should definitely experiment!
2 cups sucanat
1 cup Golden Syrup
1/4 cup maple syrup
Mix together well, and while it is working up to 275 degrees, mix together:
1 cup coconut milk (from a can - shake well!)
1 cup cashew cream (I used Mimic Creme this time)
1 chipotle pepper, toasted and ground in the spice mill
1 vanilla bean (slit the pod, scrape into pan, add pod)
Let the cream mixture warm up - ok if it simmers a bit, just add more coconut or cashew cream.
Keep a brush and water handy - when you stir the sugars, keep in mind, this reduces the temperature so don't stir too often. Use the brush dipped in water to wash down the sides of the pan after you stir. Once it gets to 275, pull it off the burner and add 2 Tb of coconut butter.
Next, add in the cream mixture while stirring - take out the pod piece - and then let it heat up to about 245.
Pour it into a pan lined with parchment paper - moisten with coconut butter if you want to feel safe - and let cool. If it's 40 degrees outside, by all means, set it out on the porch like I did (just pray the racoons and bears aren't around looking for dessert).
This came out super killer yum. Once I dip it in chocolate, I'll try to remember to take some pictures. I promise.