Every once in awhile, I’ll come across a recipe in Bon Appetit magazine that doesn’t intimidate me with fancy, expensive, hard-to-pronounce, and/or obscure ingredients. And so far, the few that I’ve actually tried have turned out pretty good. Or in the case of this particular recipe (from the June 2009 issue), freakin’ delicious!
photo via bonappetit.com
I had been wanting to try this Toasted-Coconut Caramel Sauce for quite awhile and finally got around to it a couple of weeks ago. (Since then, I’ve actually made it a second time.) The great thing is that it uses basic ingredients that you probably already have on hand, and if not, they’re easy to find at the store. Here’s my experience:
1 cup sugar
¼ cup water
1 cup heavy whipping cream
¼ cup sweetened cream of coconut* (Coco Lopez brand is the best in my opinion)
1 ¼ cups sweetened flaked coconut
1 ½ pints purchased French vanilla ice cream (any style of vanilla ice cream will do… just make sure it's a quality brand!)
* found in the liquor section of the supermarket
Place sugar and 1/4 cup water in heavy deep medium saucepan. Stir over medium-low heat until sugar dissolves. Increase heat to high. Boil until mixture turns dark amber, occasionally swirling pan and brushing down sides with wet pastry brush, about 9 minutes. The 9 minutes seems to be pretty reliable, so set a timer or watch the clock. You’ll be able to tell when it’s the right color. Remove from heat. Immediately add cream and sweetened cream of coconut (mixture will bubble vigorously). If you’re like me, you might end up with a big glob of sticky caramel right away. Don’t freak out. Whisk over low heat until caramel sauce is blended and smooth and any caramel bits dissolve. It takes several minutes of stirring and breaking apart the glob into smaller pieces, but it will all dissolve eventually. DO AHEAD Can be made 1 day ahead. Cool, cover, and chill. Rewarm slightly over medium heat, stirring often, before using.
Preheat oven to 350°F. Spread coconut evenly on small baking sheet. Bake until golden brown, stirring every 3 to 4 minutes, about 12 minutes. Cool. I’ve learned to watch the coconut closely while it’s baking, so it doesn’t end up burnt. The coconut on the outer edges tends to get darker quicker in my experience. DO AHEAD Toasted coconut can be made 4 hours ahead. Let stand at room temperature.
Scoop ice cream into bowls. Spoon some of warm caramel sauce over. Sprinkle toasted coconut over and serve immediately.
I was amazed that this sauce turned out so good the very first time I tried it. It actually looked and tasted like caramel (with a slight coconut flavor from the cream of coconut). We took it over to a friend’s house and everyone raved about it. One of our friends also happens to be a really good cook, so his positive review was even more appreciated! He was also impressed that it didn’t require a candy thermometer. I guess that’s why the 9 minutes is really important. Even Luke, who isn’t a coconut fan, really liked the toasted coconut on top. Along with the yummy taste, it adds a nice crunchy texture (and makes a pretty presentation!)
I’m sure there are lots of other sinfully delicious ways this caramel sauce could be put to good use (drizzled on brownies? a dipping sauce for apples?), although the ice cream topping has to be one of the best. I’m thinking it would even make a great homemade gift idea – just make a couple batches and put it in cute little jars (as long as the jars get refrigerated right away).
If all the sauce doesn’t get devoured immediately, it keeps well in the fridge for several days. You can reheat it slowly on the stove or in the microwave on low power.
As far as desserts go, this one is pretty easy and is sure to be a hit! Take my word for it, everyone will be impressed with your caramel-making skills. So…is your mouth watering yet?