Vegan Dulce de Leche – with Chocolate!
With the popularity of dulce de leche it made perfect sense to me that someone would come up with a chocolate version – and the fact that it is vegan just makes it appealing and accessible to even more fans of this rich milky caramel. This recipe is from Fran Costigan’s Book Vegan Chocolate, in which she makes great use of full-fat coconut milk in many of the recipes. It creates great body and fluidity in this recipe, without being overly “coconutty”. Fran says the tiny bit of guar gum is helpful with emulsification of the mixture. It might seem trivial, but it makes a difference. Also make sure to try her Chocolate Ice Cream Shell – a chocolate sauce that instantly hardens on your cold ice cream, and read our interview with her too.
Recipes reprinted with permission from VEGAN CHOCOLATE © 2013 by Fran Costigan, Running Press, a member of the Perseus Books Group. Photo credit: Kate Lewis
I stood firm in my conviction that chocolate would even improve dulce de leche—the superbly sweet, gooey, and creamy caramelized milk from Latin America, which is known in French as confiture de lait (“milk jam”). First, I had to find a way to replace the whole milk or sweetened condensed milk used in traditional recipes. Cashew cream was a fail, but canned full-fat coconut milk worked beautifully, after I added a tiny amount of the guar gum to stabilize the emulsion. Surprisingly, the coconut flavor—even with coconut sugar added—is just a whisper. I don’t recommend doubling the recipe; it is difficult to get the reduction just right.
Use a bittersweet chocolate to temper the sweetness of this sauce. (Although if you have tasted conventional dulce, you’ll notice that this one is far less cloying.) Be careful: Use a deep heavy saucepan and be very mindful that you are cooking a mixture that will bubble volcanically.
- 1 can (13.5 to 14 ounces / 400 to 414 ml) unsweetened full-fat coconut milk (do not use light)
- 1⁄2 cup / 80 grams coconut sugar (substitute 1⁄4 cup each organic whole cane sugar and organic granulated sugar)
- 1 tablespoon / 15 ml brown rice syrup or agave syrup
- 1⁄4 teaspoon fine sea salt
- 1⁄8 teaspoon guar gum
- 2 ounces / 58 grams dark chocolate (68 to 72%), finely chopped
- 2 teaspoons / 10 ml pure vanilla extract
- Combine the coconut milk, sugar, rice syrup, salt, and guar gum in a blender. Start blending on low and increase the speed to high. Blend for 1 minute until the sugar is dissolved.
- Pour into a heavy-bottomed medium saucepan (about 8 to 10 inches across x 3 inches deep / 20 to 25 cm across x 7.5 cm deep) and cook over medium-high heat, whisking occasionally just until the mixture begins to bubble.
- Raise the heat to high and stir constantly until the mixture starts to boil furiously. Stir frequently for 10 minutes, adjusting the heat up or down as necessary to maintain a steady boil.
- Carefully pour the very hot liquid into a 2-cup / 500 ml heatproof spouted measuring cup. Wait for the bubbling to stop and note the amount. If the liquid measures 11⁄4 cups / 300 ml, or a little less, it can be finished. If not, cook longer until it has reduced further.
- Once the mixture has reduced, wait about 1 minute until steam is no longer visible, and then add the chocolate and the vanilla extract. Stir until the chocolate is melted and the sauce is smooth. Pour the sauce into a clean jar. Use warm or at room temperature.
The sauce can be refrigerated covered for up to two weeks in the jar. It will thicken considerably in the refrigerator. Warm refrigerated Dulce de Leche gently over low heat in a small saucepan to liquefy if desired.