Vegan caramel! Caramel is something I thought I may never be able to eat again after going vegan. I wasn’t sure how to make caramel or if it was even possible without dairy, but I was determined to try!
After years living without caramel, I came across a vegan caramel recipe in a magazine. It called for coconut milk instead of dairy. I was so excited that I made it that same day. I thought it was delicious, but it definitely had a coconut flavor, and not the normal caramel flavor that I remembered. My son who hates coconut wouldn’t touch it. It seemed like there had to be another way to get the right consistency and flavor.
After much trial and error, I discovered that refined coconut oil and soy milk work great as a replacement for dairy or coconut milk. If you use the refined coconut oil, it doesn’t have the flavor of coconut, and the soy milk gives it the right consistency. (You can probably substitute the oil or type of plant based milk if needed. I haven’t tried this though, so let me know how it works). This recipe can be used as caramel sauce over ice cream, to dip apples, or in any way you would use regular caramel sauce. I have found that if you let the caramel sauce cool slightly and then heat on low again and let it bubble for about 30 seconds, it makes it stickier and a just the right consistency for making caramel apples.
Caramel is tricky! Nearly every recipe on my blog is easy and can be done by someone relatively inexperienced in the kitchen, however caramel, is more of an exact science. You must watch it carefully. It goes from sugar to caramel to a burnt mess in a matter of about 30 seconds. Just know that you may have to throw out your first attempt, but once you get it right, it becomes easy.
Vegan Caramel Sauce
- 1 cup vegan sugar
- 1/8 tsp cream of tartar
- 3 TBS water
- ¼ cup REFINED coconut oil
- 3 TBS soy milk
- ¾ tsp salt (optional for salted caramel)
- Step 1 Start with a clean medium sized sauce pan.
- Step 2 Add the sugar and water and cream of tartar.
- Step 3 Heat on medium. The sugar water will start to boil.
- Step 4 Don’t stir. Just pick up the sauce pan and swish around the sugar if needed.
- Step 5 Watch the sugar mixture closely! After it boils for about 6-8 minutes, it will start to get slightly darker and smell like caramel.
- Step 6 Boil for about 10-20 more seconds to let it turn a medium brown color (this color change will be slight when using vegan unbleached sugar).
- Step 7 Remove from heat and immediately add coconut oil.
- Step 8 Stir with a metal whisk for a few seconds.
- Step 9 Add the soy milk (It will bubble up and may spatter, so be careful)!
- Step 10 Add salt if you want salted caramel
- Step 11 Continue to stir until smooth and everything is well mixed.
- Step 12 Allow to cool a little before drizzling over ice-cream or dipping.
- Step 13 It will get very firm in the fridge, just heat the caramel slightly to get a smooth perfect consistency again.
Vegan Caramel Apples
- Step 1 Take out the apple stem, wash the and dry them well.
- Step 2 Place a popsicle stick in the top of each apple.
- Step 3 Make the caramel sauce above and allow it to cool to almost room temperature in sauce pan.
- Step 4 Check to see if it is a think sticky consistency. (It will probably be a little bit to runny).
- Step 5 Reheat the caramel sauce until it begins to bubble and allow it to bubble on low heat for 45 seconds.
- Step 6 Allow it to cool for about 10 minutes until it starts to slightly firm up.
- Step 7 While it’s cooling, prepare a tray or cookie sheet covered with parchment paper.
- Step 8 Roll the apples in the caramel, coating the whole apple with the caramel. (You can use a spoon to help you coat the apple completely).
- Step 9 Allow to drip for a few seconds and then place on parchment paper
- Step 10 Put the tray of apples in the fridge to cool completely. (They will easily come off the parchment paper once cool).
Tips to making perfect vegan caramel:
Every time I made vegan caramel it would come out differently and many times it would seem perfect while still warm, but then get gritty and start to crystallize when it cooled. So, I learned to add a pinch of cream of tartar to keep the sugar smooth.
I also learned the hard way to have the coconut oil and soy milk measured and waiting to pour into the sugar mixture the second it caramelizes. Adding the oil and milk reduces the temperature and keeps it from burning. It the few seconds that it would take you to find and measure the oil and soy milk, your sugar will burn!
When using vegan sugar, it is already slightly brown, so you will not see a big color change. Go by smell more than color. ( It will start to smell like caramel or even slightly burnt sugar).
Add the oil first, give it a little stir with a whisk and then add the milk. This will cool it down a little and it wont spatter as much once you add the soy milk. When you do add the milk, it will still bubble up and my spatter a little, so use a long-handled whisk to stir and stand back. (Make sure children are back and out of your way)!
If your sauce is too runny you can heat it again on low for about 30-60 seconds to evaporate some liquid out of it and firm it up. (But don’t let it burn)!
Pin the vegan caramel recipe for later:
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