Some things go together. They just do. Peanut butter and chocolate. Miras and Lolas. Summer and sitting on blankets listening to outdoor concerts. Yoga and twisty poses and tears. (This happened last night, it did. I’d heard of people crying in yoga, and tonight I was one of them. Thank God it was hot yoga and my tears were indistinguishable from the sweat pouring down my face.) Winter and furry boots. Cold mornings and hot coffee. Apples and caramel.
Apples and caramel. Mmmm. That’s fall, right? I remember going to the Feast of the Hunters Moon as a kid in the fall and eating caramel apples. I always had a really hard time taking that initial bite. The caramel coating the apple the way it did made the whole situation very sticky and overwhelming. But I loved that combo. I still do. The tart juiciness of the apple and the sweet sticky caramel.
I love caramel in general. (Are you counting how many times I say caramel in this post?) I could eat it straight out of a jar with a spoon. And recently I did just that standing over my kitchen sink, completely shamelessly. See, until recently I had battled with caramel and never won. Regular caramel is more or less sugar with some water that’s heated up til it’s liquified and crystalized. I could never pull the sugar and water comob from the heat fast enough. Nobody likes burnt caramel. Trust me.
Dulce de leche is traditionally sweetened milk and sugar heated up. It’s like a super creamy awesome caramel. Plus, if you cook it a little longer, you end up with chewy caramel candies. Oh heaven. I was ready to conquer this bitch.
Oh wait. I’m lactose intolerant. Bring in the sad trombones. Waah waah.
NBD. Google to the rescue. Found: One awesome, amazing, easy recipe for dulce de leche WITH BOURBON (extra bonus!) that your friends probably won’t even realize is vegan. Result: Jar of sweet goodness to spread on bread, apples, and baked goods … that is if you can actually stop eating it straight from the jar.
The trick with this recipe comes in the cooking time after you add the salt and confectioners sugar. (That’s powdered sugar, FYI. Make the mistake of using regular sugar instead of confectioners sugar once, and you won’t make it again. Swear.) If you want the dulce de leche to be a smooth pourable sauce consistency, cook it for less time here, about 10 minutes. If you want more of a candy consistency, cook for 15 to 20 minutes.
Oh yeah, and use a bigger pan than you think you’ll need. You don’t want this business boiling over and into your burner. This will only cause fires the next morning when you make your oatmeal.
So, let’s go! Indulge in fall-time combinations!
Vegan Dulce de Leche
adapted from The Innocent Primate Vegan Blog
1 cup almond milk
2 tsp cornstarch
1cup brown sugar
4 tbsp Earth Balance vegan butter
2 tbsp maple syrup
2 tbsp bourbon (optional)
Large pinch of salt
4 tsp confectioners sugar
Put almond milk, cornstarch, sugar, vegan butter, maple syrup and bourbon (if using) in a medium stainless steel pan and bring to a simmer over medium heat, stirring frequently to combine and to prevent burning. Once the mixture begins to simmer, turn down the heat to keep it simmering but not boiling over. Continue to stir every few minutes. Cook like this for 15 minutes.
Stir in the pinch of salt and the confectioners sugar. Continue to cook gently until the mixture thickens enough so that a spoonful dropped on piece of parchment holds together, about an additional 10 to 20 minutes (see note above for a guide to how long you want to cook for). You know you’ll be getting close when you can run a spoon through it and it doesn’t run back together immediately.
When the dulce de leche has reached your desired consistency, remove it from the heat, and immediately pour it into a glass jar or other non-plastic container with a lid. Let it cool slightly before you dig in. It’ll be hot.
Store in the refrigerator. Reheat to a pourable state in the microwave at 15 second intervals, stirring in between heatings.