Welcome to this special Sunday post! I had entered a bit of a blogging groove with the Monday, Wednesday and Friday posts, but I decided to hoist myself out of that groove in order to announce something that’s (hopefully) very exciting:
That’s right, people. Since Halloween’s coming up soon, it’s going to be Candy Week on the blog! Depending on whether the week starts on Sunday or Monday, Candy Week is either this week or next week. Does the week start on Monday or Sunday? Hmmm… this is quite the pickle.
But that’s not the point. The point is: Candy Week. Candy’s the best part of Halloween anyway, right?
So, what is Candy Week going to involve? It’s not going to be a bunch of recipes that include candy bars. Instead, it’s a few recipes based on my favorite candy bars. Oh, and as I know the word ‘candy’ means different things depending on where you live, please note that I use the word ‘candy’ to mean ‘confectionery’ (which includes chocolate!).
Yeah, expect a lot of chocolate.
But back to today’s recipes! As much as I love vegan caramel made purely from dates, the caramel I have for you today is completely date-free. It’s also coconut-free, soy-free and there’s no need for a candy thermometer! When warm, this caramel has a sauce-like consistency, but when cold it’s spreadable like jelly/jam.
Making caramel may seem like a difficult task, but it can be surprisingly easy. The main thing to remember is this: don’t forget about it. Seriously, the last thing you want is sugar and/or almond milk all over your stove. Trust me.
In an attempt to be helpful, I’ve taken photos of nearly every step of the recipe. Please excuse the quality of the photos – I haven’t mastered the art of juggling a camera while trying to cook yet. One day…
Before making the caramel, we’ll first need some evaporated milk. While I have made this caramel with canned evaporated milk before, I first came up with this recipe for Evaporated Almond Milk when I really wanted to make some caramel but was plum out of evaporated milk. It was one of those situations where I was 100% convinced that the evaporated milk was in my pantry, but alas, it wasn’t.
Feeling too lazy walk to the grocery store, I decided to make my own dairy-free evaporated milk (and have made it several times since). All you need for this part of the recipe is almond milk.
Bring the almond milk to the boil, like so.
Turn down the heat to a simmer (about medium-low heat), and simmer for 35-40 minutes.
That’s it! You’re now in possession of evaporated milk.
Next, we add my secret ingredient – pumpkin puree – as well as the evaporated almond milk we just made. The pumpkin puree adds some extra creaminess to the caramel. But don’t worry, this doesn’t taste like pumpkin.
Bring this mixture to the boil.
Then turn down to a simmer. Simmer for 25-30 minutes, or until reduced to just over 1 cup.
To thicken the caramel, we add a ‘slurry’ of cornstarch (cornflour) and water. Cook for 5-10 minutes, or until the caramel resembles a thick sauce.
And voilà! Caramel sauce! This can either be used immediately as a warm sauce, or chilled in the fridge to form a thicker caramel.
Now, what do we do with all this caramel!? I’m pretty sure caramel has at least a thousand uses – from pancake syrup to puddings to mega-exciting hot chocolates or milkshakes – but I have something specific in mind for this caramel. So at the risk of sounding like a reality TV show, you’ll have to tune in tomorrow to find out what’s in store for this caramel!
An Alternative: Date Caramel
If you’re after a caramel made purely from dates, then you’re in luck: it’s really easy! All you need is a bunch of dates – medjool is best, but deglet noor work too. If the dates aren’t moist and sticky, soak them in warm water for 10-15 minutes, and then drain thoroughly.
Add the dates to a food processor, and process away until they form a paste. This yields a very thick caramel. While it’s too thick for a sauce, it will work perfectly in tomorrow’s mystery recipe.
- ⅓ cup brown sugar, packed
- ¼ cup maple syrup
- 2 tablespoons pumpkin puree
- Evaporated Almond Milk (recipe follows)
- 1 tablespoon cornstarch (cornflour)
- 2 tablespoons hot water
- Combine the brown sugar and maple syrup in a small saucepan over low heat. Stir gently until the sugar dissolves.
- Add the pumpkin puree and evaporated almond milk. Bring the mixture to a boil, and then turn down to a simmer (approximately medium-low heat). Cook for 25-30 minutes, or until reduced to just over 1 cup.
- In a small dish, whisk together the cornstarch and hot water until the cornstarch dissolves. Add the cornstarch mixture to the saucepan. Cook for 5-10 minutes, stirring often, or until it forms a thick sauce. There should be slightly less than 1 cup of caramel.
- Pour the caramel into a dish. Let cool at room temperature for 10 minutes, and then chill in the fridge for several hours or overnight.
- 3 cups unsweetened almond milk
- Bring the almond milk to a boil in a small or medium-sized saucepan.
- Turn the heat down to a simmer (approximately medium-low heat). Simmer for 35-40 minutes, or until reduced by half. This will yield 1 ½ cups (360ml) of evaporated milk.