Salted caramel, but not as you know it! Sesame coconut caramel – your favourite sauce takes on some Asian inspiration…
Once upon a time in a far away land, there lived a beautiful princess. Her name was salted caramel, and she was loved by all. But the people were fickle, and one day they cried “No! No more!” and alas, she was no longer the belle of the ball…
Ok, so maybe that was a touch dramatic, but the aim of my ineptly-crafted fable is to point out that food sometimes enjoys a fantasy existence as a result of its popularity or infamy. Remember the cronut? I recall there being such a buzz about it at the time, yet like our poor princess it goes on to join the ranks of food royalty that have faded away into a footnote, never to enjoy a happily ever after.
However, while some foods may no longer be the star of the show, sometimes they move on to play a valuable supporting role, and I think salted caramel is one of those. After all the hype, salted caramel is still a great thing. One the draws of salted caramel is the balance between savoury and sweet, a combination that always been used to good effect in Asian sweets. And while they may not be as widely known around the world as say the doughnut, they make good use of the complexities of nuts and seeds – common ones are peanuts and sesame seeds.
The idea was to try and blend some of those elements together with a salted caramel base, and so we get sesame coconut caramel!
I toasted and ground up whole sesame seeds, which provide a nice earthy element alongside the caramel-ly palm sugar, while the coconut milk lends a distinct flavour and fat to the sauce. I didn’t want the caramel overly sweet, so the ratio here is 75% sugar to coconut milk. If you want to indulge your sweet tooth, you could up the sugar, as palm sugar is typically a little less sweet than cane sugar.
Then you literally just throw everything into a pot and bring to a boil, and let it cook away until it thickens. How long you cook it will dictate the consistency of the caramel – shorter cooking gives you a more pourable sauce, while cooking it for an extended period will give you something almost toffee-like.
Normally I wouldn’t be happy boiling coconut milk as it has a tendency to split, but it seems the sugar here helps to keep it emulsified enough to withstand the higher temperatures.
As a side note, the ground sesame seeds add a tiny bit of texture to the the sauce – you wouldn’t notice it when it’s served with other stuff, but if you eat it on its own (which I will confess to doing!), you might notice the mouthfeel can be a tiny bit grainy. Fair warning!