Think of all the possibilities! Salted caramel brownies (link to recipe for vegan brownies), salted caramel apple cake (link to recipe for apple cake), or even salted caramel ice cream! When I was small, my favorite flavor was vanilla, but everything changed when I was introduced to the salted caramel flavor *cue nostalgia*. Oh, the perfect combination of sweet, salty, rich and indulgent all at the same time. Anyone else agree with me??
Anyway, since I’m lactose intolerant now and is so pretty much 99.9% of my family, I figured it might be time to look for a dairy-free salted caramel replacement. Not exactly the easiest thing on the planet unfortunately, since butter and cream make up pretty much the bulk of salted caramel. I do think that nothing really beats the luxurious taste of butter, but this recipe comes pretty darn near close. The consistency is a little bit different (I would say a little bit thicker and glossier), but still perfect to drizzle on ice cream, pies, or just to eat by the spoonful.
When I first started experimenting with creating the perfect vegan salted caramel, I was stumped. Yes, melting the sugar wasn’t any different, but what about the butter and cream? What was I supposed to do about that? The answer hit me as I was eating some coconut mango sticky rice (nope, I don’t do anything else except eat dessert haha) – coconut oil and milk!The key to this recipe is to make sure you buy a filtered coconut oil, that keeps the coconut taste to a minimum and ensures maximum caramel flavor. I got all my ingredients from Trader Joe’s (not sponsored, but seriously love that store and its reasonable prices in New York City).
When you start adding the coconut oil to the melted sugar, and it doesn’t look like the two are mixing, don’t panic! Once you add in the coconut milk, that’s were the magic happens. Not going to lie, the mixture will probably start bubbling and sizzling like crazy, but just stir away and when all of the hubbub dies down, you’ll have a creamy, deep golden salted caramel. Now, for a snack of salted caramel and apples…
IMPORTANT: When adding the cold coconut milk to the hot sugar and coconut oil mixture, make sure to add in the coconut milk SLOWLY, otherwise the caramel will harden and seize up. If that happens, increase heat and whisk until the mixture loosens up.
VEGAN SALTED CARAMEL | Makes 1/2 cup of salted caramel
- 1/2 cup granulated sugar
- 1/3 coconut milk (full-fat)
- 3 tbsp filtered coconut oil (Trader Joe’s has a great one!)
- 1/2 tsp kosher salt
- In a medium sized sauce pan, melted granulated sugar over medium heat. This might take between 10-15 minutes, and the sugar can go quickly from golden brown to burnt, so keep a close eye on the sugar.
- Once all the sugar is melted (color should be a dark amber), lower heat and add in the coconut oil.
- Once coconut oil is completely melted, slowly pour in coconut milk (mixture will sizzle and might splatter a bit), but whisk coconut milk, oil and melted sugar together.
- When mixture comes together, sprinkle in salt and whisk well.
- Salted caramel will keep in an airtight container (I put mine in mason jars, as pictured above) for up to two weeks in the fridge.