Caramel sauce is a staple recipe in any sweet kitchen. But for the vegan baker, it can be tricky because two of the most important ingredients are dairy. Luckily we can make vegan caramel sauce with a few substitutions that all vegan bakers should keep in their pantry.
I like a touch of salt in my caramel sauce to offset the sweetness, making it (obviously) salted caramel, but feel free to omit the salt if you prefer a straight-up caramel sauce. Either way, this recipe makes a delicious sauce that is gooey when chilled, and perfectly pourable when re-heated. Store it in a glass jar so you can easily warm it up in the microwave (10 seconds at a time).
Wet vs dry caramel
You can make caramel by heating sugar alone, or add some water to make a sugar syrup. Both techniques make the same final product, so it comes down to personal preference. Adding water will make the process take longer, since the water needs to boil off before the sugar will start caramelizing. But for those of us who don’t make caramel often, the water makes it a more controlled process since the sugar heats evenly.
Ingredients for vegan caramel sauce
Makes about 1 cup.
- 1 cup granulated white sugar
- Water, optional
- 6 Tbsp (85 g) vegan butter, at room temperature
- 1/2 cup coconut cream, at room temperature
- 1 tsp kosher salt or coarse sea salt, optional
Directions for vegan caramel sauce
- In a medium saucepan (with a thick base for even heating and light-coloured interior), heat the sugar (with optional water, see note above) over medium to medium-high heat. Stir with a wooden spoon (silicone will discolour in the heat) to ensure even cooking. Don’t worry if crystals form around the sides of the pan.
- Continue cooking until the sugar starts to turn a medium amber colour. This will be the colour of your caramel sauce. Don’t go too far or it will get a burnt flavour, but make sure you go far enough to develop a nice caramel flavour.
- Remove pan from heat and add the vegan butter. Because of the water content in the butter and temperature of the sugar, it will boil instantly and release a lot of steam, so be careful. Stir vigorously as it boils to emulsify the butter in the sugar, evenly cooking the solids in the butter and boiling off the water content.
- Once the steam subsides, add the coconut cream. Switch to a whisk and continue mixing vigorously. Return to medium-low heat for 1-2 minutes, whisking constantly, until mixture is smooth.
- Mix in the optional salt.
- Transfer to a heat-proof glass jar. Let come to room temperature, then store in fridge.
What’s your favourite use for salted caramel sauce? Share your thoughts and questions in the comments below.