I've been trying to cut unnecessary dairy out of my diet (cheese is most certainly necessary and there is no substitute), so I've been cooking and baking with coconut milk a lot recently. I was trying to make coconut caramel sauce one day and accidentally overcooked it, so I ended up with a chewy caramel candy that was surprisingly good.
The subtle coconut flavor had me wishing I had put some flaked coconut in the candies and then my imagination began to run wild with other ways I could make these more interesting. I was reminded of a Thai Cashew Brittle recipe that I saw on MyRecipes.com (http://www.myrecipes.com/recipe/thai-cashew-brittle-50400000115815/) that uses fresh grated lemongrass, ginger, and sambal olek (the awesomely spicy chunky chili paste). I borrowed those flavors and added some sesame seeds for a little nuttiness instead of cashews. The result was these insanely addictive caramels that toe the line between savory and sweet. I can't stop eating them.
These can be made with an equal amount of brown sugar instead of the coconut sugar, but the coconut sugar adds a little more depth. —pigisyummy
Test Kitchen Notes
This actually works. I was hesitant about the garlic in the sauce, but it came together. It definitely takes a long time to get to 220, so don't be alarmed when it takes about 20 minutes to get there. It mostly tastes like spicy and sweet sesame and coconut, which is a good combo. I liked it! —Stephanie Bourgeois
20-30 caramels, depending how big you slice them
can unsweetened coconut milk
freshly grated ginger (with a microplane is best)
freshly grated lemongrass (with a microplane is best)