Food, Life and Love

You Put the Caramel in the Coconut

Last week, my husband and I got a little overzealous at the grocery store. Which means this week, I am on a mission to cross utilize ingredients and flex my food management muscles. Last week, I made a coconut cream couscous with roasted curry cauliflower and fresh peas. Which means this week, I still had half a can of coconut cream to utilize.

Honestly, I was tempted just to drink the coconut cream but my mission spurred me to think of something more creative. Coconut cream has a weight to it and is infused with rich coconuty flavor. It is more decadent than just coconut milk since it is more viscous. With my ingredient identified, I hit the internet to find an ideal recipe. My search lead me to my favorite site, Food52 (so great) and an intriguing coconut caramel recipe.

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They taste like the caramel on a Samoa Girl Scout Cookie. With the cookie in mind, the next day I dipped the caramel in dark chocolate and sprinkled with unsweetened coconut and red sea salt. Now my husband doesn’t really eat sweets but I always make him taste whatever I have recently concocted. He tried one and then went back for seconds, thirds, fourths and fifths. Needless to say, we found a winner.

Coconut Caramel Dipped in Dark Chocolate

(recipe adapted from Food52):

1 13.5 oz can of coconut cream

14 T unsalted butter

1.2 t kosher salt

1/2 c water

1/4 t cream of tartar

3 cups sugar

1/2 c light corn syrup

2 t vanilla extract

1 c lightly toasted unsweetened shredded coconut

1 bag of dark chocolate

red sea salt

Line a 9 x 13 inch baking pan with parchment paper and spray with neutral flavored cooking spray.

Combine coconut cream, butter and salt in a small sauce pan and heat over medium low heat while preparing sugar mixture.

Dissolve the cream of tartar in the water in a large pot. Add in the sugar and corn syrup, and bring to a boil over medium-high heat swirling pan occasionally to dissolve the sugar. Once sugar is dissolved and mixture is boiling you will need to keep a pretty close eye on the pan. If you are using a candy thermometer you will notice the mixture hovers near the boiling point for a while then starts to climb rapidly. As the mixture approaches 310 degrees, you will want to start swirling it fairly frequently. Once caramel color is to your liking remove pan from heat, I recommend 320.

Slowly pour the warm coconut mixture into the sugar mixture. It will boil violently and create hot steam, so be careful. Stir with a wooden spoon until sugar syrup has all dissolved into the cream.

Return caramel mixture to medium-high heat and bring the mixture up to 244-245 or lower end of firm ball stage. Stir often, scraping the bottom of the pan. As you get close to your target temperature you may want to turn heat down low, especially if you are using a gas stove. Make sure to stir almost continuously as you get close to your temperature to prevent burning.

Remove from heat and quickly stir in the vanilla extract. Pour mixture into prepared pan. Immediately sprinkle surface of the caramel with the toasted coconut. Using a spatula, gently press coconut into the surface of the caramel. Allow to cool at room temperature. Remove from pan and cut into 1-in squares. I find they are easier to cut if you dip your knife into warm water in between cuts. Place on a baking sheet and refrigerate for an hour until firm.

In a double boiler, melt your dark chocolate. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Remove the chilled caramel pieces from the fridge and one at a time dip them in the chocolate. Shake off any excess chocolate, you want them just coated not smothered.  Place on the lined baking sheet and sprinkle a little bit of unsweetened coconut and a bit of red sea salt on each. You do not want a lot of salt just a tiny amount per piece. Refrigerate to set, then store in an air tight container. Enjoy!!

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