Saturday, September 13, 2014

Vegan bourbon salted caramel sauce

vegan bourbon salted caramel sauce

Being the pretentious bibliophile that I am, I am rather partial to literary novels. Now, that categorization might seem a bit redundant (I know it did to me when I first heard of it) but it is actually a genre of novels which all seem to possess a few qualifications:

1. A lot of fancy writing; and

2. Not a lot of fun.

Learning this, I made a mental note to never read a novel even remotely labeled as “literary” in order to avoid the boredom that would inevitably ensue. It is easy to adhere to that rule. Most of the books reviewed in the New York Times are literary-ish—not to confuse the actual reviews with the bestseller list, which is perennially populated by John Grisham novels and 50 Shades of Grey (don’t ask). 

But this all changed in 2012, when the fabulous movie that is Cloud Atlas came out and seized my imagination and inspired me to read the original 2004 novel by David Mitchell, which is a fabulous book that everyone should read, and, while it may be literary, is further from boring than one could possibly believe without reading it for oneself. As such, I decided to revise my list of “literary qualifications” to be a little more accurate:

1. More focus on characters, symbolism, and other things of “literary merit”; and

2. Less focus on plot.

Ah. Much better. My English teacher would be proud.

You see, novels like Cloud Atlas are gateway drugs of sorts that introduce you to the realm of highbrow 

Literally a high brow. Google it. source

fiction, stuff that is not only entertaining but makes grandiose statements about human nature and life and love and everything else we have the potential to philosophize about. I’ll admit, not every literary book I’ve read has been very entertaining, but they do show us some unique perspectives on issues that you won’t find in popular fiction. So there’s that.

Yeah. So I was searching around for some good books to read lately and stumbled upon the classic that is The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath. Which is, of course, a literary novel. For the uninitiated, it is a tale mirroring Plath’s life in writing and in madness, chronicling her descent into mental illness with harrowing realism and yes I just used the words “harrowing realism” to describe a book, like any shameless book-blurber out there. You can’t blame me. Masterpieces like this one are difficult to describe succinctly.

And if you are aware of my lame little personal story, you will know that this kind of book hits very, very close to home. It is unnerving. At times, I wondered if Plath was reading my mind. The way she talks about depression and the over-arching sense of weariness and isolation it inflicts on our psyche is spot-on, so accurate that nobody but someone with personal experience with such mental illnesses could have written it.

This, to put it simply, is why I read all kinds of literary shit. To find gold like this.

Anyway. I wrote a really emotional and wordy review on Goodreads, if you want to see that. Also...would you add me as a friend? I don’t have a whole lot of friends on there. 

That’s all.

Now let’s talk about caramel. 

vegan bourbon salted caramel sauce
Damn, that's a sexy drizzle.

This, like so many other things in life, is only a piece of a larger puzzle. While caramel filled with salt and bourbon may be delicious, it is sadly not something to be eaten on its own with a spoon (though my behavior this afternoon might beg to differ). I have decided to post the recipe separately just to emphasize the pure awesomeness and versatility that is this caramel. Because hot diggity damn, it is good.

Before we begin, one quick note: the recipe as written here is very, very strong. As in, you might get drunk. A quarter cup of hard liquor is quite a lot, so if you are not a huge fan of booze I recommend halving the amount in here.

Me? I’m Irish. Booze is fine.

Here’s the recipe.


Vegan bourbon salted caramel sauce

Adapted from Food and Wine


200 grams • granulated sugar • 1 cup

60 grams • water • ¼ cup

11 grams • light corn syrup • ½ tablespoon

120 grams • full-fat coconut milk, simmered gently for a minute • ½ cup

60 grams • bourbon, room temperature • ¼ cup

2 grams • fleur de sel (you may need more to taste) • ¼ teaspoon


In a medium saucepan, bring sugar, water, and corn syrup to a boil over high heat. Cook until sugar is dissolved, but do not stir. After about six minutes, an amber caramel will form—remove from heat and drizzle in cream slowly while stirring. Let cool for one minute, then stir in bourbon.

Bring mixture to a boil over moderate heat and cook, stirring, for one minute. Remove from heat and mix in salt. Transfer caramel to a bowl; let cool slightly before serving.


vegan bourbon salted caramel sauce
My dad asked, "Is that gravy?"

I will mention that I tried Buzzfeed’s slightly different variation and found that the sugar crystallized within minutes. Maybe it was my fault; maybe it was the recipe. But Food and Wine’s variation proved much more foolproof, as it came out flawlessly the first time around. Just goes to show that you shouldn’t place any kind of culinary trust in a site that basically exists as click bait.

But a good caramel is always worth a few tries.  

And to lift your spirits after that depressing Bell Jar stuff, Aaradhna:


  1. This looks great! By a crazy coincidence I've spent ALL of this week making and remaking (and remaking again) a recipe for vegan caramel. Love the addition of bourbon!

    1. Glad you like it! And I wish you best of luck in your caramel making ventures, caramel is a toughie to get right :)

  2. This seems so lovely. Love caramel.

  3. That drizzle shot makes that caramel look irresistible! Booze is fine with me too! : D

  4. I adore homemade caramel sauce...and yours looks amazing. I haven't read The Bell Jar since I was a teen. And I've started Cloud Atlas...but need to dig it out again :)

    1. Thank you! And you should totally read Cloud Atlas, it is so worth it. :D

  5. Hi June, read bell jar years ago, will have to reread, anyway your caramel looks delicious!