let’s make caramels, shall we? You do most of the work, and I’ll eat them, OK?

Two things happened at once: I just tasted some purchased vegan caramels (which were good, but they just made me want to make my own), and a day or so later I came across this work-in-progress recipe for butter rum caramels. I first made it in Hawaii maybe two years ago, and it came out OK. I know with a bit more tinkering it would be amazing, I’m not too into the tinkering-in-the-kitchen thing lately, so do you want to give it a try? Report back, preferably with pictures (email them to me at lagusta@lagusta.com) and let’s perfect this recipe!

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(photo by Romulo Yanes)

Butter Rum Caramels, adapted from a recipe in Gourmet magazine, October 2005

Makes 64 (1″) squares

grape seed or canola or coconut oil for greasing

1 1/2 c packed light brown sugar

1/2 c granulated sugar

1 scant c coconut milk (the caramels won’t taste coconutty, because everything boils down to a syrup)

(originally this recipe had 1/4 c butter in it. I felt it was too oily with it, but let’s remember for experimentation purposes that it was taken out)

1/4 ts. salt

1/4 c plus 1 ts. dark rum (I used whisky once and it was great!)

1/4 ts.vanilla

  1. Line the bottom and sides of an 8″ square baking pan with parchment paper. Oil parchment.
  2. Bring sugar, milk, salt and 1/4 c rum to a boil. Boil over medium heat, stirring often (I always stir caramel slowly, because I have an idea this prevents it from becoming gritty. The brown sugar in here already puts this recipe at risk for grittiness, so let me know what happens when you make it), until thermometer registers 248F (firm-ball stage), about 15 minutes. My two years’ old memory of this is that it was way too firm and the temperature needs to be taken down a bit, because coconut oil (in the coconut milk) caramelizes faster than milk fats (in butter and cream). Maybe try 240F?
  3. Remove from heat and stir in vanilla and remaining teaspoon rum. Pour into baking pan and cool completely until firm, about 1 hour. Invert caramel onto a cutting board, discard parchment, and cut into 1″ squares.

7 Responses to “let’s make caramels, shall we? You do most of the work, and I’ll eat them, OK?”

  1. Stephanie

    Ohhhh I LOVE tinkering. Can you tell me what you didn’t like about the recipe, so I can find some direction?

    Reply
  2. Stephanie

    I made these tonight. I added back in 1/4c Earth Balance and used vanilla soymilk instead of the rum, and used rum extract. I had a hard time reading my thermometer, so had to go by feel, but I ended up liking the texture.

    Reply
  3. lagusta

    Wow, that was fast! OK, good to know–where they super hard? Could you cut them OK? Were they awesome, or merely nice?

    Reply
  4. Stephanie

    I couldn’t resist the task! They were chewy like I remember caramels being in the past. I looked up a recipe on chewy caramels and saw that they usually have butter and more milk in them. Also heavy cream, so I thought a little more fat would help. My partner, who doesn’t like caramel, asked for seconds!

    Reply
    • lagusta

      OK, awesome. I don’t use EB (or, really, soymilk, it always tastes weird to me), so I might still try to fiddle with a coconut oil version–coconut milk and oil always tastes more luxurious to me, I don’t like the flavor of EB. But we’re making progress!!

      Reply
  5. Stephanie

    I didn’t think about that, but taking out the soy would be great because my mom doesn’t eat it. I think she likes caramels…

    Reply

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