…You can find a lot of homemade caramel recipes on the web (or in the cookbooks)… There’s also a lot of HEALTHY caramel recipes…
But… although the commonly made out of dates healthy caramel variety (vs. the regular caramel that’s usually made out of sugar and cream) definitely makes a healthier (since the dates ARE better than the sugar) and lower-calorie vegan substitute for the regular caramel…
By themselves the pureed dates just don’t reach quite the same consistency that the real caramel has… And although the plain-date caramel is great for something like dipping, when I tried using it as a frosting or a filling for my desserts, it just… didn’t look and feel as decadently sticky and thick as the real caramel would……I’ve also found a few recipes that called for adding quite a bit of vegetable oil and/or some nut butter. But that didn’t quite suite me as well just because aside from trying to keep my desserts super-healthy, I also like to keep them relatively low-calorie (because I CAN’T settle for just one or two bites… 🙂 )But one beautiful day I decided to give adding some oil to my date caramel a try… My plan was to start with adding a little bit of oil first; if my caramel still looked kind of sad, to add some more oil to it and then try adding some nutter butter to the mix to see if that helps…But you know what? When I added just as little as two teaspoons of coconut oil to the mix… my caramel already looked and tasted SO GOOD that adding any more oil just didn’t make any sense (because I still wanted to keep my caramel low-calorie)!I tried adding the nut butters mix, too… And I also experimented with different kinds of vegetable oils… But my most favorite version of a Healthy Caramel was still the one that I made with the coconut oil in particular…
Why? Because of the coconut oil’s ability to thicken as it cools down… Using this particular oil lets you adjust your caramel’s thickness without having to add ANYTHING else to it at all! If you want it thicker – just stick it in the fridge. And if you want it to be stickier and glossier – simply leave it out in the room temperature!And one more thing: because I wanted to give my caramel a little more color I also added a little bit of molasses to it. Adding some molasses (or a dark variety of maple syrup) made my caramel just as sticky as a caramel is supposed to be!
…Finally this Vegan Caramel is so versatile! I decided to share a few of my ideas on what you can add to your regular (not-so-boring, but sometimes you crave something… different…) caramel to diversify it a little depending on the season, the kind of a dessert that you’ll be using it for, or…For when you feel adventurous…:)
Enjoy! And if you have any other cool ideas on how to diversify the (un-boring 🙂 ) luxurious caramel, I’ll be SOOOOO happy to hear them all from you!!!
Oh, the final note: you don’t have to use the super-expensive Medjool Dates to make this caramel! I personally don’t really have this kind of luxury in the budget. Instead I always use the less expensive Deglet Dates that I buy in bulk! Jump down to the recipe where I describe the process of using any kind of dates to make this caramel! 🙂
Healthy Vegan, Paleo and Low-Fat Caramel 6 Ways
For The Basic Caramel:
- 1 cup pitted dates
- 2 tbsp molasses or dark maple syrup
- 2 tsp coconut oil or cocoa butter*
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 1 pinch salt
The Additions For The Pumpkin Spice Caramel:
- 2 tbsp pure pumpkin puree
- 1 tsp pumpkin spice
- 1 tsp ground cinnamon
The Additions For The Sea Salt Caramel:
- 1 tbsp coarse sea salt
The Additions For The Apple Cinnamon Caramel:
- 2 tbsp apple sauce or apple butter apple butter works better since it's thicker
- 1 tsp ground cinnamon
The Additions For The Ginger Spice Caramel:
- 1/4-1/2 tsp ground ginger fresh ginger works best, but the dry ginger will work, too
- 1/4 tsp ground allspice
The Additions For The Caramel Macchiato:
- 1/2 tsp instant coffee granules
- Put your dates in a bowl and add some water to it so that the water covers the dates. Soak the dates overnight or if you need your caramel to be ready faster just soak them in hot water and wait for 10-15 minutes for the dates to soften.
- When the dates are soft, peel the skin off them. It's important to do this especially if you're using the cheaper variety of dates (like I usually do). It also makes for a super-smooth caramel-like consistency of your caramel.
- Warm up the oil until it's liquid. Add the dates, oil, molasses, salt and vanilla extract to a blender and blend until your caramel becomes really smooth and you don't see any more date chunks in it.
- Your basic Caramel is done and ready to go!
- To make the Sea Salt Caramel just add half of the whole amount of sea salt to your basic caramel and sprinkle your caramel frosting with the rest of the salt to make it look really pretty!
- To make the Apple-Cinnamon, the Pumpkin Spice or the Ginger Spice Caramel just add the apple/pumpkin puree and the spices to your basic caramel when it's still in the blender and blend everything for a minute or two more until everything is incorporated.
- To make the Caramel Macchiato I'd recommend dissolving the coffee granules the water that you add to the dates in step-1 to soak them up (adding the coffee granules to the prepared dates may leave you with a few undissolved granules and you may not like m=biting into them...:) )
*It's important to use this particular oil/butter because only the coconut oil and the cocoa butter have that ability to thicken when they cool down 🙂