I love caramel because it's the closest thing there is to food alchemy. Ok, maybe chocolate is close to this too but caramel involves a few basic non-exotic ingredients and a simple process. The end result is something that's truly extraordinary and more than the sum of it's parts. One of the great things about caramel is how you can just swap in certain fats and sugars to create caramels with amazing layers of flavors. The more I experiment with working with caramel this way, the more surprised I am.
I've found that building rich vegan caramel flavors (and increasingly, most other vegan baking flavor building applications) works really well when there's a small amount of unrefined coconut oil supplanting the regular fats. Unrefined coconut oil has naturally occurring compounds that mimic some of the flavors of dairy. As I developed this method further I found that a good rule is to use about 10% to 20% of the total fat consisting of coconut oil for optimum flavor. I've been using this in my latest caramels combined with vegan creams or non-dairy milk with great results. Bananas also have some of the flavor compounds found in dairy. What if I combined coconut and banana to use instead of a vegan cream and incorporated it into a caramel?
In this Vegan Banana Caramel recipe, the vegan cream is swapped out for banana purée and unrefined coconut oil. It's the most simple caramel I've ever prepared and one of the most seductive. The banana, coconut and caramel combine to make something truly special. You should be able to reduce the banana and coconut oil slightly to get a more firm caramel if you prefer. I recommend using a squeeze bottle with the top cut slightly bigger than normal for convenient application.
This is the perfect caramel for anything from apple pie, vanilla ice cream or any other dessert you want to bring to the next level.
For those difficult times when you can’t decide whether to make a vegan apple pie or a cheesecake, do both! This Vegan Caramel Apple Cheesecake recipe utilizes soy yogurt that is left with pureed almond and non-dairy milk for up to 24 hours so the Lactobacillus cultures in the yogurt can enhance the flavors of the mixture. In order for this to work as effectively as possible it’s important to use unsweetened non-dairy soy yogurt containing Lactobacillus and with as little additives and thickeners as possible. Lactobacillus cultures are bacteria that ferment sugars in the food and produce complex flavors and acids such as lactic acid.
What if you could have a fanny pack with a secret stash of Vegan Caramel Powder that you could just dust onto things like apple cider donuts, fold into apple pies, work into cake batter and sprinkle onto ice cream whenever you wanted? Now you can! Caramel significantly enhances everything from chocolate to apple to vanilla, making this Caramel Powder a great thing to have in your kitchen flavor arsenal, or your fanny pack. Caramel powder is just sugar, water, oil and salt brought up to an amber caramelization temperature of 345F (174C) on the Candy Temperature Chart. If you'd like a slightly deeper caramel flavor feel free to experiment with temperatures up to 375F (191C).
Where Easy Vegan Caramel Sauce is good for a quick caramel fix, Vegan Golden Caramel Sauce is the no-holds-barred recipe where flavor and consistency are top priorities. Traditional caramel sauce relies on heavy cream which allows the sauce to be thick and rich due to the solids present in the cream. This vegan caramel sauce recipe relies on cashew cream to supply the extra cream factor and solids, resulting in a silky smooth golden caramel that's perfect for drizzling on ice creams, baking into pies or tucked into brownies. Substitute the vanilla extract for bourbon, rum or brandy if you want an extra layer of flavor complexity.
If pirates ate brittle (and you know they did) this Vegan Coconut Macadamia Nut Brittle would be the flavor and this is how they'd describe it:
Yaaar ya kitchen dwellin' landlubber! Coconut, caramelized sugar and macadamia nuts be tied together with a splash o' rum t' make this t' brittle o' t' pirate seas, matey! So whip up a batch and hand 'er over before ya be plank walkin'!
They might also marvel in the fact that this vegan brittle recipe uses coconut milk, coconut oil and shredded coconut for maximum coconut flavor, except it would be hard to hear yowled in that thick pirate accent.
Pistachios paired with cardamom then kissed with rum makes this Vegan Pistachio Cardamom Brittle recipe stand out. Cover it in melted dark chocolate to transform it into pistachio chocolate bark if you want to give it another flavor dimension.
Hazelnuts, also known as filberts, are toasted to give this Vegan Chocolate Hazelnut Bark recipe a great crunch. Frangelico, a hazelnut liqueur, ups the ante with the hazelnuts for a deep, rich flavor. This vegan brittle is further enhanced with orange zest and then smothered in chocolate.
Pumpkin Cheesecake is one of my favorite desserts during the holidays. This vegan recipe variation pairs pumpkin with Easy Vegan Caramel Sauce for a great way to end a feast. It also features barley malt syrup, lemon juice, cinnamon and ginger powder to help marry bold pumpkin flavor with vegan creaminess. I recommend opting for non-hydrogenated vegan cream cheese so you can avoid trans fats. This vegan cheesecake also goes great with a dollop of Vegan Vanilla Ice Cream.
Use this Easy Vegan Caramel Sauce recipe to bring another dimension to vegan cheesecakes, ice creams, pies, brownies or pretty much anything. Caramel is one of those rare taste miracles that's in the same realm of chocolate sauce and maple syrup; it would probably make cardboard taste delectable. It's liquid gold. This is an easy to make sauce that utilizes coconut cream for rich flavor. Coconut contains flavor compounds called lactones which are among the same compounds that give dairy products like cream their signature flavors. Want to turn up the flavor level to eleven? Replace the vanilla extract with 1 Tablespoon bourbon, rum or brandy.
These chewy Vegan Pecan Caramel Chews are reminiscent of those little caramels you used to get from trick or treating when you were little, except they're packed with pecans and dipped in chocolate! Be sure to use a candy thermometer with this vegan caramel recipe for best results. If you like your caramel extra soft or extra hard, adjust the caramelization temperature 10F (6 C) lower or 10F (6 C) higher respectively.
This Vegan Chocolate Coconut Magic Bar recipe is quite possibly the only good thing I got from going to church as a youngster. Sundays were free-for-all sugar fests that kept the kids coming. This vegan dessert in particular often inspired me to secretly infiltrate the church kitchen with ninja-like abilities so I could get to it first while the church service was still in session.
Magic Bars are also known as Seven Layer Bars because they often involve seven alternating layers of things like walnuts, chocolate chips, peanut butter chips, butterscotch chips and shredded coconut that are bonded together with a liberal drizzling of condensed non-dairy milk. I opted to forego the peanut butter chips and butterscotch chips due to their near-impossible vegan availability and because they usually push the sweetness envelope a little too far. I then made up for their lack of flavors by opting for Golden Vegan Caramel Sauce or Easy Vegan Caramel Sauce instead of Vegan Condensed Non-dairy Milk in the binding department. The result is a sticky gooey mess of a great thing.