My latest culinary obsession has been about experimenting and finding healthier alternatives to beloved comfort foods and things that remind me of my childhood.
One of those things is “confiture de lait”, which means milk jam in french. The Argentinians also have a version of it which is called “Dulce de Leche”. It’s a sort of caramel spread usually made with milk & sugar. It’s totally unhealthy in this way, too. However, if there’s one person I know that is utterly obsessed with anything involving caramel, well, it’s ME. Oh, I used to love eating caramel spread straight out of the jar. I’m also the first in line if there’s something that says salted caramel, caramelized or caramel-ANYTHING, but it’s something that I have a bit of trouble accepting, as it’s not quite a healthy habit. Besides, I’m really trying to avoid dairy and sugar, so this food goes right into my blacklist. Isn’t that sad?
So the other day, I let my mind wander for a little bit and thought:
What if I could re-create this recipe, but with plant-based, healthier ingredients?
And so I did. I decided to take a rich non-dairy milk (coconut milk) and an all-natural, low-GI sugar derived from the same plant (coconut sugar) and see what happens when you simmer those two on low heat, for a couple of hours. Guess what?
CARAMEL happened. Oh yeah. Delicious, gooey, fudgy, salty-sweet caramel just happened right on my stovetop. No dairy and no refined sugar involved. That’s pretty amazing, right?
As soon as I saw it coming together, I thought: “This recipe HAS to be shared”. So here you go…
SUPER YUMMY VEGAN COCONUT CARAMEL
You’ll need only 3 ingredients:
- 1L of coconut milk
- 350g of coconut sugar (or any type of non-fancy sugar if you’re not necessarily concerned about it being on the healthy side)
- 1 tbsp vanilla extract
Stir all of your ingredients into a medium pot and bring the mixture to a light boil. As soon as it’s heated through, turn the heat down to low. Now, let this mixture simmer, and simmer, and simmer, for two to three hours, but make sure you stir it once in a while to avoid it burning or crystalizing. You will notice the mixture will start to thicken with time. You can remove it from heat and pack it in a jar whenever you think it’s ready:
Want your caramel to be thinner, like a caramel sauce? You can stop cooking it after just 2H. It will be delicious over ice cream, drizzled over pancakes etc.
Want it to be thicker and fudgier, like mine? Leave it cooking for another hour (total: 3H), until you notice it becoming very thick. It will be perfect as a spread, maybe even slathered in between banana slices (lovely bite-sized snack), or… you can just eat it straight from the pot. No judgement there 😉
This caramel can keep for up to 3 Months in a jar (I upcycled mine from a Jpour Kale Salad jar!). It is not necessary to keep it in the fridge. Just make sure to store it in a cool, dry place, as you would with a nut butter!
Credits: Photos & Hand-Lettering by Linda Dieschbourg.