Salt Caramels


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Despite being incredibly in vogue in the rest of the food world, salted caramels seem to have bypassed vegans. I have long been interested in candy making, and caramels have been on my list of things to do. The fact that no one seems to be making them made me think there was something I was missing that would make veganizing them tricky.

In my library of vegan cookbooks I have seen endless lists of cookies, cakes, brownies, ice creams, can even a custard or two, but very little candy work. What few “caramel” sauces and the like I had come across were concoctions of brown sugar and corn syrup and involved little to no caramelizing what so ever, or were even stranger mixes of things like tahini and peanut butter. What was I missing? Well, I found out this week: absolutely nothing. While working with melted sugar can be a little tricky, you will get the hang of it. These little sweets will hence forth remain a staple in my repertoire, especially for gift giving occasions as I think they are a little easier (not to mention considerably cheaper) than making truffles.

Smoked Salt Caramels

1 Cup unsweetened MimicCremesaltcaramels1

5 Tbsp Earth Balance

2 tsp smoked salt, plus more for sprinkling on top

1 1/2 Cup granulated sugar (I used evaporated cane juice)

1/4 Cup agave nectar

1/4 Cup water

You Will Also need

Candy thermometer


Line the bottom and sides of an 8×8 baking dish with parchment paper and lightly oil the parchment.

In a small sauce pan combine the MimicCream, Earth Balance and 2 tsp of salt. Bring to a boil, remove from heat and set aside.

In a large, heavy bottomed sauce pan combine sugar, agave, and water over high heat. Stir until the sugar has melted then bring to a boil, swirling the pan but not stirring. Bring to boil and let cook, without stirring, until the sugar begins to turn a golden brown, about 248°f on a candy thermometer. Carefully stir in the cream mixture – it will bubble up – and simmer, stirring frequently, for 10-15 min until the mixture reaches 248°f on a candy thermometer. Remove from heat and pour into prepared baking dish. Let cool in refrigerator at least 2 hours until set.

Cut caramels into one inch squares, sprinkle with remaining salt, and wrap in 4 inch squares of parchment.

A few notes:

  • BE VERY CAREFUL WHEN WORKING WITH MELTED SUGAR. It is extremely hot and will stick and burn badly if you spill it on yourself.
  • After adding the cream you can test the consistency of your caramel by dropping a spoonful into a glass of ice water.  It will cool and you will be able to judge the consistency. Stop cooking when it is to your liking.
  • For this batch I used a smoked salt, but you can experiment with any high quality sea salt. Flor de Sal seems to be the standard people are using. If you are going to go the gray salt rout I would recommended Sel Gris, as I find it has a little more flavor due to its higher mineral content. Murray River Pink Salt salt would also be a good choice. Any good, coarse, sea salt should work fine though.
  • These caramels can also me enrobed in tempered chocolate for a more finished looked as well. I would go for a bittersweet chocolate, as the caramel is sweet enough.
  • I used MimicCream, but you could also substitute coconut milk. The fat content makes it an excellent substitute for cream, but it will add a little coconut flavor to your caramels.
  • Most standard recipes for caramels call for corn syrup. In candy recipes, corn syrup is used for it’s glucose content, which prevents sugar from crystallizing. During my research for this recipe I discovered that agave nectar will serve equally well as an invert sugar, so not only is this recipe dairy free, it is also corn syrup free!
It is best if you have all of your wrappers cut and ready to go before you start. It will make the process go much smoother.
It is best if you have all of your wrappers cut and ready to go before you start. It will make the process go much smoother.

30 thoughts on “Salt Caramels”

  1. I was looking at where to post a comment – lol – how could I have not seen it!!
    Candy making has been on my to do list for AGES. This recipe looks so good and I’m so happy you blogged about it.
    Happy Mofo’ing!

  2. I tried these caramels made by Justin! They were AMAZING!!!! The perfect blend of sweet and salty, and SO SUPER SOFT that they just melted in your mouth! (unlike a lot of other caramels that are tough to eat and get stuck in your teeth…)

    This recipe is AMAZING!

  3. Can you cook this to a temp. lower than 248* and use it as a caramel sauce? I’m assuming cooking it to a lower temp means it will not completely set up (?)…

    1. I have not tried it, but have been meaning too.

      It should work. Keep a glass of ice water handy and dip a spoonful of caramel into the water to see what consistency it will be when it sets up (you can make it a little thicker than you might be going for if you are serving it warm as it will thin a little as it melts)

  4. hi justin, i love this recipe! is there any way to get the caramels slightly firmer at room temperature? i tried taking the temp just up to 251F and the caramels started to smoke and nearly burned. oops!

    1. If you want a firmer candy, you can experiment with adding less “cream” and/or “butter” to the recipe. You could also replace some or all of the Earth Balance with Palm oil or coconut oil, since they are both solid at room temperature, while EB isn’t.

      Also, taking the temp up a litte should work. Make sure you are using a heavy bottomed pan, so that the heat is even (or you can place your sauce pan on top of a cast iron skillet, to help even the heat), and make sure you have a good, instant read thermometer, so it is keeping up with the temperature changes. You can also use the old fashioned methon of dropping a spoonful of caramel into a class of ice water to see what stage it is at.

    1. I don’t know what was up with that. Looks like my new theme wasn’t liking some of the links in the post. I took out all of the links, and now it seems to be working.

  5. Hi there! This recipe looks great. I am going for a coconut feel so I am going to replace the mimicreme with coconut. I was also wondering- someone told me to try brown rice syrup instead of agave- do you think that would work? Thanks!

    1. Using coconut milk shouldn’t be a problem. Brown rice syrup should work….. but I haven’t tried it (and honestly dont’ work with it that much). It has enough glucose and maltose in it to keep things from crystalizing, so should work fine.

    1. I don’t have an exact count, but a single batch makes about a 9X9 inch pan before cutting, so if you do one inch squares that is about 81 give or take depending on how you cut them. Usually, I probably cut them slightly bigger, so get don’t actually get that many. Probably closer to 64.

  6. Hi- I tried this recipe with coconut milk. It’s good but a little thin. Should I cook it longer or do you think it’s the coconut milk?

    1. Make sure you cook it until it reaches about 248°. At this point most the water should have boiled off. The caramel will be liquid when hot, and will firm up as it sets. You can test the consistency of the caramel my dropping a spoonful into a glass filled with ice water.

  7. I am wondering if “Smart Balance” Light w/flax seed willwork in place of the “Earth Balance”? I have a grandson that is allergic to dairy so this brand of “Smart Balance” is what I usually buy and what I already have on hand. I love experimenting with non- vegan recipes for my grandson as he is also allergic to eggs. I have even found a way to make pumpkin pie without all the milk and eggs and he loved it!

  8. Not sure if you’re aware that they changed the ingredients in Mimicreme. I’m making toffee with the “new” product and noticed it doesn’t thicken the same way. Has anyone tried it?

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