COCONUT MILK CARAMELS with Tellicherry pepper
I’m not a big fan of sweets, but homemade candy is something entirely different. You know exactly what goes in there and you can make it exactly as tough or chewy as you want, depending on the sugar temperature.
I first got the idea of making caramels without any dairy about a year and a half ago – for all the lovely vegans (including yours truly). The first batch that I made (without a thermometer) were super yum, but would only stay solid in the fridge. The second batch turned into a caramel sauce rather than candy. I didn’t even try to make a third batch after that.
So now, all this time later, equipped with a candy thermometer, I tried again and the result are these chewy, sticky, creamy caramels, with a kick from the Tellicherry. They really are easy to make – bring the caramel to one temperature, add the milk, bring to another temperature and set in the fridge. Who would have known.
But the thing that really lifts these is the Tellicherry pepper. If you don’t have this type of black pepper at hand, you can substitute with regular black pepper, but there will be a slight loss in the taste. Tellicherry pepper has more of a sweet, aromatic taste than the regular (Malabar) kind, which can just be very fiery.
If you don’t have a candy thermometer at hand then it is possible to make this, but only if you are veeeeery lucky – like I was the first time. Since it is a matter of a few degrees from when it is completely soft and then solid as a rock, I recommend buying a thermometer. After you’ve made these once you’ll be really glad you did.
250ml coconut milk
175ml light corn syrup / glycose
2 tbsp coconut oil, plus more for cutting
400 ml white granulated sugar
½ tsp granulated salt
Toast coconut shreds in the oven at 150C for 5 minutes or until slighty brown. Cool
Line a 20cm x 20 cm baking dish with baking paper and brush with coconut oil.
In a small pot, combine the coconut milk and salt. Heat on low until the clumps have dissolved and the mixture is warm, take off heat.
In another pot, combine the sugar, corn syrup/glycose and water. Stir until all the sugar granules have disappeared, then continue heating without stirring until the mixture reaches 310F/ 155C. Pour the coconut milk mixture slowly and carefully into the sugar mixture (it will splash!) and stir until the mixture in uniform. Continue cooking without stirring, until the caramel reaches 240F/115C. Take off heat and pour into the prepared tin. Grind Tellicherry pepper on top generously and sprinkle coconut shreds over it. Cover with plastic wrap and cool completely in the fridge (best overnight) , then cut into bit-sized pieces by dipping the knife into coconut oil or hot water before. If the mixture is too soft to cut, place in in the freezer for 10 minutes, then try again. Wrap individually in parchment paper or candy wrappers.