Caramel is up there in my holy grail of foods; right next to ice cream. Sadly, they’re both rich in heavy cream when traditionally prepared. Caramel = sugar + heavy whipping cream + butter. That right there is the magic equation. And then there’s dulce de leche! Contrary to popular belief; dulce de leche and caramel are not one of the same. That’s like saying apple and blueberry pie are the same because they’re both pies. Don’t you dare… However, I use this easy recipe to substitute for both. Think of dulce de leche as caramel’s sidekick & the object of my affection all throughout childhood. Dulce de leche = condensed milk + sugar. Sidenote: both of the above equations are responsible for my jeans not zipping up as I entered my 20’s.
I will eventually come up with a more traditional caramel recipe using organic, full-fat grass-fed dairy & unrefined sugar. Because I believe cream is not nearly as bad as refined sugar. But this caramel recipe is for everyone who’s got a dairy intolerance or like me; who are fighting an autoimmune condition with diet. Or like you; if you’re just looking for an easy & delicious way to make a healthier caramel sauce that will make your world go round.
I used to buy a pre-packaged caramel sauce (which I would squeeze onto ice cream) that was rich in sugar, dairy, corn syrup & a ton of 10-syllable ingredients that I could never pronounce. I would buy light, or low-fat thinking it was slightly more benign. But benign it was not. I have fully stopped counting calories these days. It is so liberating. The enemies are not calories, but rather chemicals. It’s about preparing or buying food with ingredients that you know & trust. I have never felt happier with the way I looked or felt and it’s all thanks to giving up white sugar & white flour. On a cautionary note; that does not mean you can eat 3 jars a week of this caramel & not gain weight. This is a much healthier, unrefined, wholesome version of caramel. But coconut sugar & coconut fat are not to be over-indulged in, either. Thankfully- your body will absorb & process them way differently than it would absorb white sugar or heavy cream.
This 3-ingredient homemade caramel (2 ingredients if you don’t count water) will change your world the way it changed mine. It’s awesome. I must of course be fully honest with you & bring up two things: 1) It’s thick & sticky, but certainly not as thick as traditional caramel. 2) You can adjust the taste by selecting from either coconut sugar or raw cane brown sugar. Pst.. They’re both unrefined & much better for you than the white stuff.
I tried it with both types of sugar, (twice) just to be sure. Coconut sugar gives it a nutty-like taste. It’s sweet, but already comes with a slight hint of caramel. It’s been used for thousands of years in South East Asia & it’s such a great natural sweetener. I encourage you to read up about it; and how it’s lower on the glycemic index than sugar. Brown raw cane sugar on the other hand is darker, stickier, also has a hint of caramel- but it tastes like molasses. Which one do I prefer? I like the coconut sugar caramel. It just yields a darker, nuttier, richer caramel.
This caramel goes well with:
- apple slices
- banana slices
- on top of granola & yogurt
- as a cheesecake topping
- If you freeze it on a non-stick pan and then cut it into squares, you may add it to brownies & cookies for an instant dose of yum!
- 1/2 cup of coconut sugar (you may sub with brown raw cane sugar)
- 1 tbsp of water
- 1 can of full fat coconut milk (refrigerated overnight)
- Use a small pot, I like to use a stainless steel one. Turn it on to medium heat and add the coconut sugar. Stir often for the next 2-3 mins so that it doesn’t burn.
- When the sugar is hot & starting to melt, add 1 tbsp of water.
- Continue to stir often, but allow it to boil & bubble (at medium heat).
- Once it bubbles consistently, add 1 can of coconut milk (the fat only). Stir to incorporate and allow it to simmer & bubble on low heat for about 15-20 mins. This low simmer needs to happen for it to thicken.
- You know it’s ready when it has both; thickened & darkened. It will turn a shade darker, into a coffee-like color. Allow it to cool.
- Always keep the caramel in the fridge. So far it’s been there for 5 days and holding up well.
*There’s a neat little kitchen hack to ensure you only add coconut fat & dispose of the coconut water in the can. The first few times I tried to make dairy free caramel, I ended up with a runny sauce. I then tried refrigerating the coconut milk overnight. When you remove the can from the fridge, flip it so that the bottom is now the top. Open up the (bottom). You will be pleasantly surprised to see that 1/2 the can is water 1/2 the can is fat. Dispose of the water & use the coconut fat. Enjoy!!