This recipe follows exactly the same method as my recipe for coconut caramels, but where the coconut caramels came out tasting buttery and caramellish and almost popcorny, these almond caramels came out tasting almost exactly like nougat. It’s kind of fascinating, actually – I wasn’t aiming for vegan nougat, but I seem to have invented it anyway. Better still, unlike real nougat, it’s very straightforward to make, and doesn’t require a cement-mixer-grade stand mixer to deal with the batter – the boiling process does all the stirring required.
I took the caramel a little further in this recipe, so they are both sturdier and chewier than the caramels from yesterday, but not filling-destroyingly so. I’m also suggesting a little less salt in this recipe than I actually used, because I think it was a touch too much, though certainly not unpalatable.
Once again, this recipe has been scientifically tested on real scientists and shown to be very tasty. What would I do without my hungry scientist-guinea-pigs?
Your Shopping List350 g sugar 500 g almond milk 45 g almond meal 1 vanilla bean 300 g glucose syrup 100 g cocoa butter (I used Mycryo powdered cocoa butter) 125 g pistachios 10 g flakey salt
Now what will you do with it?
Combine the sugar, almond milk and almond meal in a large (6-8 litre) saucepan. Yes, I know, they barely cover the bottom of the saucepan, but nonetheless they will boil up so high and so fast that you are going to get a fright even in a saucepan this size. Don’t push your luck with a smaller one.
Split the vanilla bean lengthwise, and scrape out the seeds into the pot. Add the bean, too. It’s sensible, incidentally, to slit the vanilla bean only most of the way to the top – if you still have the end in one piece, you’ll have a V (for vanilla!) that is much easier to fish out than two long strands.
Bring the mixture slowly to the boil. While you do so, measure out your other ingredients and line a 25 cm square tin with baking paper.
Put the pistachios and salt into a small frying pan, and toast for a couple of minutes, just until the kitchen smells of toasted nuts. Set aside.
When the almond milk mixture boils, add the glucose syrup, and stir through. Stick in a sugar thermometer (I haven’t broken my new one yet – yay!), and raise the heat to medium. You want to boil this mixture to 110°C, but watch it closely – in its early stages it will try to boil out of the pot, so stay where you can see it and adjust the heat as needed.
When the mixture reaches 110°C, fish out the vanilla bean and stir in the cocoa butter. You will need to do a few rounds of stirring to get it to incorporate, so please make sure you do – you don’t want greasy bits in your caramels.
Boil this mixture to 120°C. Immediately remove from the heat and quickly stir in the pistachios and salt.
Pour out into the prepared tin (I do hope you prepared it earlier, because you do not have time now – the caramel will start setting as it cools, and you don’t want this to happen in your saucepan!). You may need help with this, if your saucepan is heavy. This is why one has things like husbands and house-mates, I find.
Let set for twenty minutes, then remove from tin – it will be fairly solid at this point, but still soft – and score deeply into squares.
Let cool completely and cut up. Even scored, it’s going to be a right pest to cut up – I think caramel just *is*, no matter what you do.
Feed to a hungry scientist. Or maybe a lab-full – this recipe makes about 125 caramels.
Ha! Do I ever have variations for you! I’m about to try a chocolatey version tonight. If it works, you will see it on this blog in the near future. I’m thinking a fun Christmas variation might involve dried cranberries or cherries to go with the pistachios. Incidentally, the pistachios are optional and can be omitted or replaced with any nut you like the sound of. If you omit them, I’d use a slightly smaller tin, however. 22-23cm, perhaps? I’d love to add kirsch right at the end of the cooking time, though this will make the caramels gooier, because it will increase the liquidness of the mixture.
My Excellent Sidekick feels strongly that these caramels should have cardamom. She is right about most things, and I feel that she is probably right about this, too. I’d add half a teaspoon to start with, and I’d add it with the cocoa butter so it cooks a little and isn’t all grainy and horrid.
Oh, and it probably goes without saying, but these are vegan and gluten-free, not even remotely nut-free or low GI, and alas, still high in fructose, due to the corn-derived glucose syrup.
Incidentally, if you put the saucepan straight into the sink when you get it off the stove and fill it with hot water, you will find that most of the caramel will melt off effortlessly and cleaning it will be easy. Which is a very useful thing to know if you want to make caramels every day…
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~One year ago: Recipe: Quinoa Salad with Corn, Coriander and Lime Two years ago: Farmers’ Market: Getting Warmer…