Vegan Salted Coconut Milk Caramel

Caramel! Do you say it “CARA-uh-mel” or “CAR-uh-muhl” or “KAR-mul?” I say it “delicious,” and something I enjoy swirled into my ice cream or as a dipping sauce for a hot doughy pastry (hello, mini churros).yummy-vegan-coconut-milk-caramel

So once upon a time I found and fell a bit infatuated with these vegan caramels made from coconut milk. Me being me, I instantly starting working on how I could recreate something similar.

I typically make my vegan caramel from dates, which is delicious, but this was a fun new challenge and I can’t wait to bake with this stuff and incorporate it into other fun desserts and treats.coconut-milk

What are you up to right now? As I’m typing up this post, I’m watching Vanderpump Rules. It’s the best worst show ever.

Life is still a bit of a doosey for me lately. I’m experiencing multiple transitions and am exploring new platforms for freelance, and in the meantime I find I have a lot of create energy and am unsure where to place it. It feels like I’m going to pop creative juice all over the carpet. So when this happens I end up baking breakfast cookies and making homemade vegan caramel. I need a life. Or a friend who will eat my food that isn’t my dog.vegan-coconut-milk-caramel

In other news, I am experiencing a really adorable adult acne breakout. This acne does not help me in the she-looks-like-a-teenager-don’t-take-her-seriously-department. Which is starting to get a wee bit frustrating. But that’s okay. I recently read a tweet from a vlogger I follow about letting people who doubt you and try to take advantage of you be your motivation to succeed. So I’m going to try to go this route. Which I guess means caramel, among other things.

Enough of my talking. On to the caramel:delicious-vegan-coconut-milk-caramel

It’s easy, delicious, and has a lovely coconul undertone. It’s wonderful swirled into yogurt, on top of ice cream, AND in the recipe I am going to post next (stay tuned ~ I’m really excited about this one).

Oh, and if you’d like the mini vegan churros recipe here it is: 1) Go to Trader Joe’s. 2) Buy frozen mini churros. 3) Eat.

Prep Time:  2 mins
Cook Time: 35-40 mins
Total Time: ~40 minutes
Servings: ~1/2 cup caramel sauce

Ingredients:

  • 1 can full-fat coconut milk
  • 1/2 cup sugar or coconut sugar
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla
  • 1 tablespoon coconut oil
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt

Method:

  1. In a small saucepan, combine coconut milk and sugar.
  2. Heat mixture to a boil over medium heat. Maintain slow boil over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until sauce has thickened, roughly 35-40 minutes. Stir in coconut oil and vanilla and remove from heat.
  3. Transfer caramel sauce to an airtight container and store in the refrigerator for up to 2 weeks. Enjoy!

Vegan Gluten-Free No-Bake Cookie Dough S’mores Bars

I should be writing my thesis. Really, that’s what I should be doing. Not baking, not rearranging my apartment to put my table by the window to take pictures of my baked goods, and definitely not blogging about them either. But here we are.
Vegan S'mores Bars Cookie Dough

Finishing this thesis has been like so meh. I’ve never been so good at procrastinating anything in my life. So many other things just seem important right now. Like frantically finding a job. And signing up for a free barre class and arriving wearing sticky stocks to realize that you and your friend missed the memo that it’s actually a free HIIT/cardio kickboxing class. And then doing that class wearing sticky socks. And then trying really hard not to roll your eyes while biting your tongue listening to their partner “holistic nutritionist” talk about “good molecules” for your body after. Phew. Stay calm, Kathy.

Vegan S'mores Cookie Dough Bars  Gluten-Free

Anyways, part of me procrastinating editing my thesis involved S’mores bars. I know right? Vegan, GF S’mores bars. Now what if I told you that these are also better-for-you. Like the cookie dough layer is actually pretty healthy.

Vegan Cookie Dough Healthy

Shut the front door, right? Right. But this magic is REAL.

Vegan Marshmallows

So recently Trader Joe’s debuted their vegan and gluten-free marshmallows for $2.99. G’bless you TJs for real. Normally, vegan marshmallows are like $6 for no apparent reason. And thus I’ve refrained from buying them and haven’t had a damn marshmallow in like 3 years. Until these puppies hit the shelves and like a dream come true.

Vegan Marshmallows Trader Joe's

Speaking of dreams, you could take a nap of one of these marshamllow-topped bars. Marshmallows are fluffy, just like pillows. Except then you’d have crumbs and chocolate in your hair. But if you surround yourself with the right types of people they may actually dig that sort of thing.

Vegan Gluten-Free S'mores Cookie Dough Bars

Back to the bars: what do I dig about these? Well, they have all the things I look for in a dessert: they are carby and sweet but not too sweet, and they have chocolate, and they have a graham cracker crust, and when you eat them they don’t make you feel like you just ate a garbage truck.

Vegan and Gluten Free S'mores Cookie Dough Bars

In fact, marshmallows aside, these puppies ain’t bad for you. The middle layer is full of whole grains, protein, and plant-powered goodness. And dark chocolate is rad, too.

Vegan Gluten Free S'mores Cookie Dough Bars

The graham crackers and the marshmallows? Well, those are for fun. Which is allowed when you’re eating. Because eating should be fun and not boring. In fact it should be s’mor-ing. <—I’m the worst. Kudos to you if you’re still reading this post and putting up with me being a cluster.

Vegan &amp; Gluten Free S'mores Cookie Dough Bars

Now let’s do this.

Vegan S'mores Cookie Dough Bars Gluten-Free

Ingredients – Crust:

  • 2 cups graham cracker crumbs (about a sleeve and a half)
  • 6 tablespoons coconut oil, melted

Ingredients – Cookie Layer:

  • 1 can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
  • 1 1/2 cups oat flour or other flour (you can make oat flour by pulsing oats in a food processor or blender until a flour forms)
  • 1 cup rolled oats
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1/3 cup granulated white sugar (can sub coconut sugar, etc)
  • 3/4 cup dairy-free chocolate chips
  • 3/4 cup chopped pecans (optional)

Ingredients – Topping:

  • 12 ounce bag vegan gluten-free marshmallows
  • 1/2 cup chocolate chips (optional)
  • 1/2 cup chopped pecans (optional)

Directions:

  1. Lightly grease a 9×13 baking sheet.
  2. In a small bowl, mix together graham cracker crumbs and coconut oil. Press into baking sheet to form a bottom layer. Store in the freezer for at least 10 minutes to set.
  3. In a food processor or blender, puree chickpeas until a smooth paste forms. Add vanilla extract and pulse again. Transfer to a bowl and add oat flour, rolled oats, sugars, and mix well. Then add chocolate chips and pecans and mix again.
  4. Transfer cookie dough into pan and press on top of graham layer.
  5. Top with chopped marshmallows, chocolate chips and pecans. Torch with a fancy kitchen torch, or broil in your oven for 2-3 minutes to crisp up the marshmallows.
  6. Cut into squares and enjoy. Store in the refrigerator or freezer.

Cherry Almond Vanilla Granola

Homemade granola makes me so happy. It’s so easy and fast and sounds impressive, but is a super quick thing to throw together and munch on all week long.

Vanilla Cherry Almond Granola. Vegan && Gluten-free

I would categorize granola as something that definitely is worth making at home. There are certain things I think are definitely easier to buy. An example of this would be hummus and almond butter. I try my best, but I can never get the texture as good as the ones from Trader Joe’s. I’ll keep working on this. In the meantime, I’ll keep cranking out granolas by hand, whether they be of the Puppy Chow variety, Nutty Gingerbread Granola, or Carrot Cake Granola. Or, in this case, Cherry Almond Vanilla Granola:

Vanilla Cherry Almond Granola. Vegan & Gluten-free!

But homemade granola is noticeably better than store-bought. First off, it just tastes so darn fresh and wonderful. It’s also easy to customize. I like that I can add a boatload of nuts because I like a  boatload of nuts in my granola. I can also make it extra-cinnamony and not-too-sweet. And it’s wonderful and perfect and has a magnificent crunch and makes the house (or studio apartment) smell absolutely wonderful. It’s actually a staple of mine to snack on and keep around the house, which is why when the Recipe Redux challenge for May was to share a DIY household kitchen staple, I knew I had to share a recipe for granola. Easy to make, more than worth the effort, and always a delightful snack to have on hand. Yums.

Vanilla Cherry Almond Granola. Vegan and Gluten-free

Today I was running very low on maple syrup because my mom used like, all of mine without my knowledge. I try to remind myself that she paid for my food for 18 years of me growing which couldn’t have been cheap. But then I’m usually still sad because I am emotionally attached to all of my foods. Regardless, I ended up trying to use applesauce to replace some of the syrup. I actaully really liked the result. It gives it a nice texture and good clump-age (sounds sexy, right?) and acts as a wonderful binder without giving too much sweetness to the stuff. I’d do it again.

Vanilla Cherry Almond Granola. Vegan and Gluten-free!

So in a way it ended up being a good thing that I was low on maple syrup. Except then I ended up at Trader Joe’s on an off day (again) which is getting embarrassing. Sometimes a girl just needs to get her homemade granola fix.

Vanilla Cherry Almond Granola. Vegan && Gluten-free

So here we go with this Cherry Almond Vanilla Granola. It’s a great combination of flavors. I really love almonds and cherries and they pair together quite well. Vanilla adds a warmth and sweetness to tie it all together.

Prep Time: 10 minutes
Bake Time: 30 minutes
Level: Easy

makes about 4 cups granola

Ingredients:

  • 3 cups rolled oats
  • 1 cups almonds  (I used slivered, because it was what I had, but you can use whatever)
  • 1/2 cup dried cherries
  • 1/2 cup shredded coconut (optional)
  • 2 tablespoons coconut oil, melted
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup apple sauce
  • 1/4 cup maple syrup (can sub honey)
  • 1/2 teaspoon sea salt

Directions:

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.

2. In a large bowl, combine oats, optional coconut shreds, and salt. Mix well.

3. In a small bowl, combine coconut oil, apple sauce, brown sugar, vanilla and maple syrup. Mix well.

4. Pour wet mixture over dry mixture and mix until well combine. The oats should all be a little wet. Transfer to a parchment-lined or nonstick baking sheet. Place into the oven for 30-35 minutes until nuts and oats have browned. Add cherries and almonds about 15 minutes into baking and mix well (this is optional, if desired you can add them from the get-go, I just prefer my nuts and dried cherries a little less toasted, especially if the nuts are slivered, but you can easily add them before baking). When it is done, it will still be sticky. Take it out of the oven anyways. It will harden as it cools. Enjoy 🙂

Vanilla Cherry Almond Granola. Vegan & Gluten-free!

For more DIY Kitchen Staples from fellow Recipe Redux members, click around below: