Caramel with Molasses, Maple and Sucanat: Apples Optional

Sometimes it’s worth sharing a fail when there’s a WIN in the same effort, as in the case of these wretched-looking mini candy apples with what turned out to be an fabulously flavorful caramel sauce.

Caramel with Molasses, Maple and Sucanat #dairyfree #norefinedsugar

Go ahead, laugh. I deserve it! But truly, the flavor of the sauce is worth making this for other caramel uses.

Aren’t they pitiful? You can say so, I know they are. Any food blogger these days naturally gets excited when they think they may have a potential Pinterest hit in the works. I thought these adorable mini apples might be contenders, scooped with a melon baller and skewered with twig-shaped lollipop sticks, sprinkled with smoked sea salt.


The consistency was potentially a problem, but the moisture on the apple balls (having no skin on them) made them so slippery that the caramel more or less slid right off.  Letting the caramel cool and thicken a bit more helped a little, but as you can see, it was eventually to no avail.

But the good news is the flavor of the sauce. As I’ve mentioned once or thrice, I have a serious Thing for caramel and will eagerly try all the varieties I can. I wanted to experiment with some unrefined sweeteners (like sucanat and molasses from Wholesome Sweeteners). I also wanted to make it dairy-free and slightly lower-glycemic. Both the coconut milk and the unrefined sweeteners, the molasses lent the caramel a hint of tanginess and umami that worked beautifully – even if it looked far from beautiful melting around the base of those apples. And hey, the minerals in both the sucanat and the molasses give it a nutritional boost as well. 

You win some, you lose some, and I’ve never had the means to be a visually spectacular blogger, so hey, I might as well be real once in a while, eh? This might not get any Pinterest hits at all (I hesitate to even create a pin for this), but the taste doesn’t (always) have to be photogenic.

*Wholesome Sweeteners did provide samples for use, but this is otherwise not a compensated post. Just fangirling.

Caramel with Molasses, Maple, Sucanat and Coconut Oil
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
This thick, tangy caramel with a hint of umami uses no refined sugar or dairy. Okay, not so great for mini apples, but great in other places caramel is called for.
Recipe type: Candy
  • 1 cup coconut milk
  • ½ cup sucanat
  • ⅓ cup maple syrup
  • 2 tablespoons molasses
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • about 2 teaspoons Maldon smoked sea salt flakes (or other fancy schmancy salt of your choice)
  • 3 apples, if you care to try improving on my attempt, here. Entirely optional.
  1. IF - and that's a big if - you decide to give the apples a go, scoop out with a melon baller. Skewer with lollipop sticks and set aside. GODSPEED.
  2. If you're more sensible and are just in it for the caramel: To start with, I scooped the creamiest part of the coconut milk out of the top of the can (and saved the rest for a smoothie). Prepare a mixing bowl with an ice bath and set it aside.
  3. In a heavy bottomed saucepan, stir together the coconut milk with the sucanat, maple syrup, molasses and salt over medium-high heat.
  4. Bring mixture to a boil, then reduce heat just slightly (to about medium, or just a bit above it) and cook, stirring continuously, until it reaches 248 degrees. This took me about 15 minutes; much will depend on the size of your pan, your burner, etc. Definitely check regularly after the first few minutes. [NOTE: If you're using this for other purposes, you can adjust the temperature accordingly for desired consistency.]
  5. Once you hit that number, immediately remove from heat and set saucepan in the water bath. Add vanilla and stir vigorously until the caramel thickens up.
  6. Use for whatever purpose you like, preferably sprinkled with the smoked sea salt.
  7. [If, against my advice, it's mini-apples, steel your nerves and dip each in the sauce, setting on a tray witted with wax paper. You might have better luck transferring them immediately to the fridge if you have the space. Report back!]

— posted by Anne


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