Whilst I am known for my liberal use of butter, cream and eggs in my baking, I am always up for a challenge when it comes to catering for dietary restrictions. I’ve made a few vegan desserts and gluten-free desserts before to cater for various friend’s food preferences and enjoyed getting creative in the kitchen. My next mission was to try and create a vegan salted caramel using condensed coconut milk. I thought I’d experiment with a vegan pie crust while I was there, and this vegan salted caramel tart recipe was created! It’s surprisingly easy to make and tastes delicious thanks to the wonder of coconut.
I based my vegan short crust pastry off this recipe which turned out a treat. The dough is made of flour, salt, sugar and water and is bound together using coconut oil – it’s an incredibly easy dough to work with and I know I’ll be making this again and again in the future. If you wanted to make these gluten-free, I would suggest substituting the flour for a gluten-free flour (if you do, please let me know how it works out!)
The pastry browns up beautifully and is rich and crumbly. It has a subtle coconut flavour with crunchy edges thanks to the addition of coconut oil (which is now readily available in health food stores and most big supermarkets). I ended up making 6 smaller tarts with this batch of pastry, but you can also make 1 big one.
The vegan dulce de leche is insanely easy to make and the basis for it is this wonderful concoction known as sweetened condensed coconut milk – Australian readers, I found mine at Woolworths. If you can’t find it, I have also included a recipe for making it from normal coconut milk. It takes longer but is just as delicious!
For the topping I used these dairy free chocolate chips by Sweet William which just so happen to be vegan as well. You could combine the melted chocolate with some coconut cream to make a thick layer of ganache, but I wanted the caramel to be the hero of this dish. So I simply melted the chocolate chips in the microwave and drizzled it over the top of the tarts, then added a final scattering of sea salt.
And the result? A decadent tart that is sweet, salty and rich and is oh so hard to stop at just one. They are so close to the real deal I highly doubt you’re non-vegan friends would even notice!
- 1½ cups plain flour
- 2 tbsp granulated sugar
- ¼ tsp salt
- 10 tbsp coconut oil (slightly colder than room temperature)
- 2-3 tbsp ice-cold water, more if needed
- 400g can sweetened condensed coconut milk
- ½ tsp sea salt
- 400g can coconut milk
- ½ cup brown sugar
- ½ tsp sea salt
- Vegan dark chocolate
- Sea salt
- Combine the flour, sugar and salt together in a large bowl.
- Add chilled coconut oil and work it into the flour with your fingers to form a crumbly texture.
- Add the water, 1 tbsp at a time, until dough starts to form.
- Form into a single ball, cover and let stand for 15 minutes.
- Preheat oven to 190ºC.
- Grease your molds with coconut oil.
- Roll out the dough with a rolling pin between 2 sheets of baking paper to about ⅓ cm thickness. Cut out circles using a sharp knife, then place the pastry circles inside the molds, pressing the dough into shape.
- Roll a rolling pin over the top to remove any overhanging dough.
- Line the tart tins with baking parchment and fill with ceramic baking beans or dried pulses.
- Bake for 10 minutes, then remove the beans and cook for about 10 minutes more, until golden brown. Your baking time will differ depending on the size of tart tins you use.
- Allow tarts to cool.
- Quick version - Mix together the condensed milk and salt in a saucepan over a low heat. Stir for 15 minutes until the mixture becomes a darker golden colour and thick. Pour caramel into tart shells and allow to set in the fridge for an hour.
- Slow version - Mix together coconut milk, sugar and salt in a saucepan over a medium heat until the coconut milk starts to boil. Reduce heat to low and cook for 1-2 hours, regularly stirring to prevent burning. Pour caramel into tart shells and allow to set in the fridge for an hour.
- Melt dark chocolate in the microwave in 30 second burts on medium heat until melted.
- Drizzle over the top of each tart and finish with a final sprinkle of salt.
I look forward to experimenting with more pies using this coconut oil-based pie crust, and am already thinking of all the options I can create with this vegan dulce de leche!