“Use coconut milk to make caramels, and then they’ll be both dairy and corn free!” My friend Lorrine said as I described to her my new fascination with making homemade candy without corn syrup. I gave it a try and after a few tweaks on the proportion of sugar-to-coconut milk, was delighted with the results!
These smooth classic caramels are free of major food allergies (gluten, dairy, eggs… even corn). They do taste faintly of the coconut that they are made with, but the overwhelming taste is caramel with an initial blast of delicious salt to counteract the sweetness.
If you haven’t made candy before, or need to brush up on the ‘hows and whys’ be sure to check out the overview article: Gourmet Candy Making Without Corn Syrup, Artificial Flavors, or Colors first.
Dairy-Free Soft Caramels with Sea Salt (corn-syrup free recipe)
- In the pot of your Instant Pot, or in a stock pot for use on the stovetop (choose a large one, it will bubble up in later steps), combine sugar, coconut nectar, a pinch (about 1/4 teaspoon) sea salt and water with a whisk until all the sugar is wet.
- Remove whisk, clip on candy thermometer so that the bulb is in the sugar mixture but not touching the bottom of the pot, and turn the Instant Pot on to Saute- Medium. Alternatively, heat pan on the stovetop over medium heat.
- Heat until just before hard crack stage (310* F). Do not stir at all during this time.
- As the sugar mixture heats, use a small saucepan to heat the coconut milk over medium-low heat, stirring occasionally. Heat until it starts to boil, then turn heat off.
- Add vanilla to coconut milk after heat is off.
- As soon as sugar mixture reaches 310*, remove from heat (place on a trivit or hot pad) and slowly pour in in hot coconut milk/vanilla mixture. Be careful, there will be lots of steam and the mixture will increase in volume.
- Stir to mix coconut milk into the sugar mixture and return to medium heat.
- Cook until caramel mixture reaches 260* F. Do not stir during this cooking process.
- As the caramel mixture cooks again, line a loaf pan or 8x8 pan with parchment paper, and grease with coconut oil or spray with cooking spray. Alternatively, a silicone pan can be used without the need to line or spray.
- Once caramel reaches 260*, pour into prepared pan. Do not scrape the edge of the pan, only pour off what comes out on its own.
- Place pan with caramel on a cooling rack and allow to cool until it comes to room temperature. Cover and transfer to the fridge.
- After caramel is set, 4-8 hours later, sprinkle with remaining sea salt flakes and pop out of the mold by lifting up the parchment or inverting the silicone pan.
- Use a knife that you have run under hot water to heat up to cut into 1" squares. Wrap in waxed paper, cellophane, or parchment paper squares individually to keep caramel from sticking together. Caramel can also be served in small parchment paper mini muffin cups.
- Keep in the fridge for up to 2 months, freezer for up to 6 months, or enjoy right away. Caramel may melt at room temp, depending on how warm your home is.