As you can see in that video, those caramels do require a small mountain of sugar. They're amazing, don't get me wrong, but I wanted to come up with a naturally sweetened, healthier version. And I had a hunch some of you out there might dig it.
So I played around a little and came up with this recipe which is pretty darn delicious and totally simple. It's essentially made with only 3 ingredients: pumpkin, honey, and coconut oil. Mmmm. Happy Halloween!
'PALEO' PUMPKIN CARAMELS
1 cup pumpkin purée
1/3 cup honey
1/2 cup coconut oil
Optional but recommended: 1 tsp. pumpkin pie spice (cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, and cloves) half of one vanilla bean, 1/2 cup toasted pumpkin seeds, dash of good quality salt
In a small heavy-bottomed saucepan, simmer the pumpkin purée, honey, spices, and scraped vanilla bean seeds on medium-low heat for about 20 to 30 minutes or until very thick (about the consistency of mashed potatoes). Be sure to stir the mixture frequently as it cooks, particularly once it thickens as it can stick to the bottom of the pot.
Once it has thickened considerably, remove from heat and add the coconut oil. Mix together until the coconut oil melts. Blend with a hand blender (or whisk vigorously by hand) until smooth and thick.
Line a 9 x 5 loaf pan with oiled parchment paper (leaving an overhang on either side for easy removal) and spoon or pour the hot pumpkin mixture into the pan. Smooth the top with a spatula and sprinkle with the toasted pumpkin seeds until the top is evenly covered.
Refrigerate for at least an hour. Remove the solid rectangle from the pan by pulling the edges of the parchment paper, and invert it onto a cutting board, pumpkin seeds facing down. Slice into squares. (If you have trouble slicing them cleanly, place in the freezer for an additional 15 minutes before slicing). If you wish, sprinkle a little salt on top of the caramels. Store in the fridge until ready to eat.
(A final note: the pumpkin can be replaced by winter squash such as buttercup, butternut, or delicata. The drier the flesh of the squash or pumpkin, the less time you'll have to cook it with the honey to get it to the right consistency - I find cutting any squash or pumpkin in half and baking it cut-side down on the pan until soft, then letting it cool cut-side side up yields the best results and a nice firm squash or pumpkin purée)