Yay for caramels! I love love love caramels, but this is pretty much the only time of year I ever really make them. They are so ridiculously easy, though, that I think I should start making these all year long.
And so should you! These are ooey and gooey and have the perfect hint of cardamom… guaranteed to please.
With any candy-making, it helps to have a candy-thermometer… but for caramels, one really comes in handy. There is about a 20 minute (don’t quote me on that, because I have never actually timed it) cooking time where you don’t stir. During that time you just wait for the candy to reach the proper temperature or the proper “firm-ball” stage. So, making the caramels is easy. But, there is a lot of standing at the stove… and waiting.
If it has been a while since you have had a good caramel, or the vegan versions are just too inconvenient to purchase… just make your own! It is totally worth it. I honestly prefer these caramels to any of the store bought, non-vegan versions I remember as a kid. These are actually a veganized version of the caramels I made pre-vegan days…. and guess what? They taste exactly the same.
They are the perfect silky, but sticky, texture. And they have a nice, shall I say, “Earth Balance-y” flavor. These things are absolutely divine….
First, gather your ingredients and tools.
Now, add all ingredients, except for Earth Balance, vanilla extract and cardamom into the saucepan.
Over medium heat, stirring constantly, dissolve sugar completely. Next, add your Earth Balance and stir until boiling.
Once boiling, stop stirring!
Let it continue to boil, without stirring (even the littlest bit), until it reaches 250 degrees on your candy thermometer. It will look like the picture below for a long time.
A good indicator to test for progress, if you are lacking a candy thermometer, is to take your wooden spoon, and just dip the very tip of it into the top of the bubbly mixture. The syrup should stick to the spoon like this when it is about done:
If you think it’s time… take a teaspoon and grab a spoonful of the syrup and quickly drop it into a very cold glass of water… when it is ready, this is what you will get:
Basically a caramel, right? This is referred to as “firm-ball” stage. You will know it is ready when the ball is firm enough not to flatten when you remove it from the glass with your fingers, but it will flatten if you give it a little squeeze.
Okay, when the mixture is at the right temp, immediately stir in vanilla and cardamom and quickly pour into your prepared loaf pan.
Let cool at room temp for a few minutes and then slip into your fridge for about an hour. Once firm, cut them into squares. I froze mine for a few minutes, before cutting, to make them slightly less sticky .
Wrap them in waxed paper and store in fridge. They will not melt at room temp… in case you want to give some away during the holidays. But they get pretty soft if kept in warmer temperatures. I would definitely recommend not storing them in your pocket.
Happy Vegan Caramel making!!