I have been off work, on maternity leave, for two weeks now, and I must tell you I’m not all that good at having nothing to do. Ok, it’s not like I actually have *nothing* to do, I’ve been keeping busy fielding all kinds of amusing emails and text messages from well-meaning people coming out of the woodworks and “just checking in!” to see whether or not I have any news. Folks, I assure you, when the baby arrives I won’t forget to mention it.
I’ve also been adulting pretty hard this week. After more than half a year of trying, we finally (FINALLY!) bought a new apartment yesterday, so I’ve spent the week talking to mortgage brokers and making mic-drop power-move real estate bids (the process in this city is bonkers), figuring out when to list our current apartment for sale, and generally trying to get that side of our lives as organized as possible so that in the event I do go into labour (c’mon baby, any time now) we don’t have any distractions. More on the new apartment down the road, but I will say that we’re planning to renovate the kitchen, so that will be fun to share with you.
What I’m not good at, I suppose, is not having any hard deadlines. Case in point, I’m trying to get some nutrition articles written so I won’t have to deal with them when the baby arrives, but the deadlines are months from now, which means that I can (and do) spend days, weeks even, plugging away without getting anything done. Ridiculous.
I think that, like many people, I thrive somewhere in a delicate balance of busyness where I do my best work when I have slightly too much on my plate. But not insane too much, which is why these caramels are coming to you now instead of in December as I had originally intended. December was a bonkers (BONKERS!) month for me at work, and I just couldn’t get these naturally-sweetened salted coconut caramels out then, but since we are staring down another sugar-laden holiday (of sorts) this weekend, I thought why not now?
As the nutrition paradigm I practice within is one of balance and moderation, I tend to prefer my treats to be treats and my healthy eats to be just that. Occasionally, however, something comes along that straddles that boarder precariously enough to give me pause, and this is one of those times. Not that I’d define caramels as “healthy” on any day of the week, but if treats sweetened with coconut sugar and fattened with coconut oil are more up your alley than high-fructose corn syrup and refined palm oil, then I’m pretty sure these will be your jam. And if you’re not generally fussed about that kind of thing, I still think you’ll find these insanely good.
It’s a combination of ingredients you wouldn’t think would come together to create such a luscious caramel. And indeed, when you first stir them together you’ll worry that you’ve made a huge mistake. But, have faith. As the mixture comes to heat and you stir your little heart out, it magically transforms from a grainy pile of coconut sugar covered in a viscous layer of coconut oil to a smooth, creamy caramel that’ll form a ball when dropped into a glass of ice water. And lo, once poured out onto parchment paper, sprinkled with coconut chips and coarse salt, and cooled, the caramel can be cut into chewy little cubes of deliciousness. Perfect for sharing with someone special, wouldn’t you say?
Candy. Folks, I don’t care whether it’s naturally sweetened and vegan and made with unrefined ingredients, this is candy through and through. It just is. Coconut sugar is still sugar, agave, honey, or whatever liquid sweetener you choose is just that. Please enjoy your candy very much, embrace the sugar rush, and then move on.
One year ago: Raw Chocolate Raspberry Mousse
Two years ago: Strawberry Maca Milkshake
Three years ago: Whole Wheat Chocolate Chip Cookie Cake with Dried Cherries and Smoked Salt
Four years ago: Spicy Kohlrabi Salad
Five years ago: Carrot Ginger Muffins
- ¾ cup coconut oil
- 1 cup coconut sugar
- ⅓ cup agave nectar, or other liquid sweetener*
- 4 Tablespoons coconut butter
- ½ - 1 vanilla bean, seeds scraped out
- pinch sea salt
- coconut chips and coarse salt for sprinkling (optional)
- Prepare a glass of ice water to keep beside the stove. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
- Melt coconut oil over medium-high heat in heavy-bottomed pot, and add coconut sugar and agave. Stir continuously so that the sugars don't burn or stick to the bottom.
- Add coconut butter, vanilla bean seeds, and salt. Continue stirring as the caramel begins to bubble and come together.
- When the caramel begins to pull away from the bottom of the pot as you stir, remove from heat. Drop a small spoonful into the glass of ice water. If it forms a soft ball, you're in business. Alternately you're looking for about 120°C / 245°F on a candy thermometer.
- Pour the mixture out onto the parchment paper, and sprinkle with coconut chips and coarse salt. Let the caramel cool completely.
- Cut into small squares, and wrap individually in parchment paper.
Recipe adapted from Renée Voltaire