Coconut sugar, also called palm sugar, is an amazing natural sweetener. It is made from the sap of coconut flower buds. It ranks a 30 on the glycemic index, making it a low-glycemic sweetener. Plus, it is chock full of vitamins and minerals like potassium, phosphorus, calcium, magnesium, zinc, iron, B vitamins, and C vitamins. Coconut sugar tastes like mild molasses–almost like brown sugar.
Today’s recipe stars not only nutritional, low-glycemic coconut sugar, but also a fresh, luscious vanilla bean from Beanilla. I love Beanilla’s vanilla beans because they’re high quality, moist, come in airtight containers, are fresh, and are sold very inexpensively when compared to other vanilla beans on the market (especially here in the boondocks!).
Smooth cream, sweetly nutritious coconut sugar, and subtle vanilla unite in this easy-to-make, delicious caramel recipe. The resulting candy is a lovely golden color with beautiful flecks of vanilla seed. Plus, these delightful, decadent caramels make the perfect gift for that special loved one this upcoming Christmas (or any other holiday–Valentine’s Day, birthday, you name it!)!
Now, before I dive into the recipe, let me point out something. This will make a soft caramel candy. I left mine uncovered in the fridge make it firmer. If you live in a high-humidity atmosphere, it may be really runny. In that such case, I’d recommend using it more as a sauce (you can add more cream to make it even runnier, almost making it a dulce de leche), which could be used for cold coffee drinks, desserts like ice cream or cake, a filler for alfajores, and so on.
To present these caramels (such as for a gift) or to store them, wrap them in waxed paper that has been cut into squares and twist the sides. You can also tie colorful curling ribbon to the twisted up sides to add color and a special touch.
Vanilla Bean Coconut Sugar Caramels
- 1 vanilla bean
- unsalted butter
- 1-1/2 c. heavy cream
- 1 c. coconut sugar
- 1 c. sucanat or white sugar
- 1 tsp. kosher Real Salt (plus some extra for sprinkling, optional)
- Using a paring knife, cut the vanilla bean open. Set aside.
- Grease an 8-inch by 8-inch square baking dish with about 2 tablespoons melted butter. Set aside.
- Fill a small saucepan about 1/2 full of water. Bring to a boil over high heat then turn the heat down to low to keep it hot. Keep a heat-resistant pastry brush nearby this pan.
- In a medium, heavy saucepan, mix together the cream, coconut sugar, sucanat, and salt with a wooden spoon. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat. If necessary, dip the pastry brush in the hot water, wipe off the excess water on the edge of the water pan, then brush down any crystalized sugar that forms along the inner sides of the caramel pan.
- Once the caramel mixture has reached a boil, clamp a candy thermometer to the side. Without stirring, let the mixture reach between 250 and 255 degrees Fahrenheit (hard ball stage). Continue to brush down any crystalized sugar.
- After the caramel mixture reaches temp, remove from the heat and remove the candy thermometer. Scrape all the vanilla beans out of the vanilla pod with the tip of the paring knife. Scrape them off onto the tip of the wooden spoon and stir thoroughly into the caramel.
- Pour the caramel into the prepared baking dish. Allow to cool on a flat surface in the fridge for at least 8 hours.
- Once set set, lightly grease a chef's knife with butter and cut the caramels into 1-inch squares. If desired, sprinkle with a little bit of kosher real salt.
- Wrap in waxed paper squares or otherwise store in an airtight container at room temperature for up to one week.