Vegan Coconut-Ginger Caramels

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In candymaking, fat of any kind hinders crystallization, resulting in a softer texture. For these ginger- and chile-spiked caramels, plant-based fat from coconut replaces the typical butter, resulting in creamy, chewy caramels that are perfect for anyone on your gift list. Thai chile brings complex, fruity heat to these fragrant caramels; substitute a pinch of crushed red pepper, if desired. To reduce sticking, use kitchen shears to cut caramels into bite-size pieces; spray shears with cooking spray for extra protection. To package them to give as gifts, individually wrap caramels in parchment paper, twisting the ends to seal securely. Place in a cellophane bag or a decorative tin.

Vegan Coconut Ginger Caramels
Photo: Photo by Victor Protasio / Food Styling by Torie Cox / Prop Styling by Christine Keely
Active Time:
55 mins
Stand Time:
8 hrs
Total Time:
10 hrs 55 mins
Yield:
90 caramels

Ingredients

  • 1 (13.5-ounce) can unsweetened coconut milk (such as Chaokoh), well shaken

  • 1 1/2 cups thinly sliced unpeeled ginger

  • 1 medium-size fresh red Thai chile, halved lengthwise, or a pinch of crushed red pepper

  • 1/4 cup coconut oil (solid at room temperature), plus more for greasing baking dish

  • 1 teaspoon fine sea salt

  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

  • 2 cups granulated sugar

  • 2/3 cup light corn syrup

  • 90 (4- x 3-inch) pieces parchment paper, plus more for baking dish

Directions

  1. Combine coconut milk, ginger, and Thai chile in a small saucepan. Cook over low, stirring occasionally, until bubbling around edges, 10 to 15 minutes. Remove from heat. Let stand at room temperature, uncovered, 2 to 6 hours, or let come to room temperature, cover, and refrigerate overnight. Reheat coconut milk mixture over low, stirring occasionally, until thin and pourable, 3 to 5 minutes. Pour through fine wire-mesh strainer into a bowl; discard solids.

  2. Lightly grease an 8-inch square baking dish with coconut oil. Line with parchment paper, allowing at least 2 inches of overhang on all sides. Lightly grease parchment paper; set baking dish aside.

  3. Return infused coconut milk to saucepan. Add coconut oil, salt, and vanilla. Keep warm over low until ready to use, stirring occasionally to incorporate melted oil.

  4. Cook sugar and corn syrup in a large high-sided saucepan over medium, swirling pan often, until mixture is dark amber in color, 16 to 20 minutes. Remove from heat. Carefully add coconut milk mixture, whisking constantly. (Syrup will bubble up vigorously.) Return mixture to heat over medium; cook, whisking constantly, until a candy thermometer registers 248°F (firm-ball stage), 4 to 8 minutes. (Syrup temperature will drop when coconut milk mixture is added but will climb when returned to heat.) Immediately pour mixture into prepared baking dish. Let cool, uncovered, at room temperature, at least 8 hours or up to overnight.

  5. Using parchment paper overhang as handles, lift caramel sheet from baking dish; discard parchment paper. Using kitchen shears, cut caramel sheet into 15 (about 1/2-inch-wide) rows. Cut each row into 6 (about 2-inch-long) pieces to yield 90 caramels. Center 1 caramel along 1 long edge of 1 parchment piece. Roll to wrap caramel; twist ends to seal. Repeat with remaining caramels and parchment paper.

Make Ahead

Caramels can be stored in an airtight container at room temperature up to 1 month.

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