Healthy Caramel Recipe –
(dairy-free) and great for apples

Healthy Caramel Recipe | Eat Life Whole

Recipe Makeover

Stephanie Kanoeola Megumi Wong

It’s party time! Who needs a healthy caramel recipe to make yummy caramel apples, or how about caramel popcorn for your next work potluck or packable lunch?

While I’m NOT condoning the act of sugar indulgence, I do want to continue to stuff your pocket with alternatives that are WAY better than the store bought, heavily processed junk. Just like we mention in our “Top 10 Foods You Must Replace Right Now” list in our Eat Real Essentials eBook, dips and sauces can be a HUGE downfall if you don’t know what’s in them. And since we’re working our way into the “holiday train of events” time of the year, it might be a helpful recipe to keep in your toolkit.


What is Caramel Anyway?

I always get caramel and toffee confused, but after a quick read on CHOW’s website, we can clear that up right now.

Toffee vs Caramel | Eat Life Whole

The cooking temperature also makes a difference, but we won’t need to get that technical for you to make your own healthy caramel recipe this week!

 

A Fabulous Alternative

I’m calling this a “healthy caramel recipe,” because of how it compares to a more traditional version. In this case healthy (or shall I say “healthier”) simply means, WAY less sugar, WAY less calories/fat, WAY less sodium, ZERO preservatives, and plus it’s dairy-free (and vegan) for all of those who are following those dietary guidelines.

The color is darker than most caramels simply because of the type of sugar (coconut sugar) that I’m using vs. brown or regular white sugar. It’s also less sticky and doesn’t harden like traditional versions. Once you make it, cool it down and be sure to refrigerate it overnight for best results. The outcome is SO unreal and makes for the perfect caramel apple dip, or a sweet drizzles on fro-yo/ice cream, or even a gooey addition to baked goods. (Hmmmm I must try that.)

All in all, here’s what I’ve done:

  • replaced 1 cup heavy cream for 1 cup full fat coconut milk
  • removed butter
  • swapped regular salt for sea salt and reduced it by ½
  • reduced sugar by 1 cup
  • removed corn syrup
  • reduced water
  • added a ½ teaspoon more of vanilla
  • added 1 tablespoon lemon


How Does it Compare?

To give you a quick overview of how this fabulous “healthy” caramel alternative compares to an original caramel recipe, let’s look at the ingredients:

Original Caramel Recipe Healthy Caramel Recipe
1 cup heavy cream (832 calories) 1 cup full fat coconut milk (420 calories)
4 tablespoons unsalted butter
1/4 teaspoon salt 1/8 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 cup white granulated sugar 1/2 cup coconut palm sugar
1/4 cup corn syrup
1/4 cup water 2 tablespoons water
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract 1 teaspoon vanilla extract (pure)
nothing tablespoon fresh lemon juice


The Process

Normally when making caramel, you need to be quite accurate about the temperature by using a candy thermometer. Since I’m no fancy pro, I’m going to keep this simple and easy so you can serve it up quick! Take a look:

Healthy Caramel Recipe | Eat Life Whole Healthy Caramel Recipe | Eat Life Whole Healthy Caramel Recipe | Eat Life Whole Healthy Caramel Recipe | Eat Life Whole Healthy Caramel Recipe | Eat Life Whole Healthy Caramel Recipe | Eat Life Whole Healthy Caramel Recipe | Eat Life Whole Healthy Caramel Recipe | Eat Life Whole Healthy Caramel Recipe | Eat Life Whole Healthy Caramel Recipe | Eat Life Whole


Healthy Traditions at Work

What inspired me to share this recipe with you, had nothing to do with a healthy caramel recipe…or apples…or sugar, but rather a fond memory of having bi-monthly POTLUCKS at work!

During my tech corporate days, a few of us foodie lovers started bi-monthly potlucks as a means to bring our design and marketing team together. Sometimes it was “healthy” and sometimes it wasn’t, however each potluck had a theme. One of my favorites was a CARAMEL APPLE PARTY that was led by a super, awesome friend (Canela). We passed around 10-12 different apples with at least 20 different topping combos, and most importantly, we took a break from our deadlines to enjoy a friendly conversation over good eats.

I challenge YOU this month to build stronger teams with the folks you work with. Perhaps start a healthy tradition like a group walk, a potluck, or even a Halloween Party with healthy caramel apples! 

 

Ingredients

1 cup coconut milk (full fat or light)
½ cup coconut sugar
⅛ teaspoon sea salt
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 tablespoons water
½ tablespoon fresh lemon juice

Steps:

  1. In a small pot over medium heat, mix coconut sugar, water, and lemon juice and bring to a boil.

  2. Immediately add the coconut milk (pour slowly), sea salt, and vanilla. Simmer for about 15 minutes until the liquid becomes thick and dark. Be sure to stir occasionally and scrape the edges of the pot with a rubber spatula to avoid burning.

  3. Remove from heat once it’s thick and cool it down to room temperature.

  4. For best results, store it in a sealed jar in the refrigerator overnight before using it. The outcome is UNREAL!

Use it for: caramel apples, popcorn, drizzling over frozen yogurt/ice cream, or add it to other baked goods.

Don’t forget: The consistency of the caramel looks and tastes BEST when you refrigerate it overnight before using it. And boy does it taste sooooo darn good (with less calories, sugar, and excess). 

Yields ~ ⅔ cup

 


Eat Real EssentialsEat Real Essentials - Available Now!

If you like this recipe, checkout more nutritious and healthy living tips in our Eat Real Essentials eBook, enhanced and interactive for the iPad or in a digital-friendly PDF. It’s filled with inspirational stories, grocery shopping and pantry stocking tips, a 3-week meal plan with a whole foods detox, and over 100 RECIPES designed just for the busy person! Check it out here.

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Thanks for reading! My name is Stephanie Wong and I am a certified holistic health & nutrition coach, home-grown natural food cook, lover of all things ginger, and a strong believer that strength is beauty. [read more...]

Comments...

  1. I saw this on Yummgoogle and I am so making this! What a great recipe! I love it!!

    • stephanie says:

      Hi Jennifer! Thanks so much for the sweet note. It was definitely a food experiment gone well :) I haven’t tried it in any baked goods yet, but I do hope to try that very soon! Thanks for checking us out btw.

  2. Missy says:

    Do you need to keep the caramel in the fridge after the first night?…..if there’s any left :}

    • stephanie says:

      Yes, I’d def keep in the fridge for storage. It will keep it fresh, especially in a tightly sealed jar. (Of course if there’s any left ;) SO GOOD, right??? And the smell is outrageous, huh?

  3. Sherry D says:

    WOW! I have a question for you – if I were wanting to make healther caramel candies, do you know if it’s possible to change something in your recipes to give these a firm, chewy texture? Should I cook it longer, etc? Or is that not possible with this recipe?

    Thanks so much for this!

    • stephanie says:

      Hmm Sherry! I’m stumped. Not sure how to make this a firmer/harder candy. I’m thinking you’d need a higher sugar ratio for that to happen. My sister loves making caramel candies (not the healthy kind ;) for the holidays. I’ll have to ask her about her ingredients to see how the ratios compare. Since I’m so late in replying, I’m wondering if you gave it a shot?

  4. John says:

    Hi! Sooooo glad to find this recipe, but i couldn’t use coconut sugar so had to sub regular sugar. When I was done, the caramel had some chunks in it, I’m guessing it was the coconut milk. Any ideas what I may have missed?

    • stephanie says:

      Hi John — Hmmm…did the coconut milk have clumps of “cream” when you added it? That definitely could be a part of the reason. If you try it again, try taking a whisk to the pot to smooth out any bumps. Did you like the taste? One person commented and said she was NOT a fan of the coconut flavor.

  5. Ann says:

    Oh my.Made this after reading the good reviews.The coconut flavor unfortunately is a little too much.Not liking it.

    • stephanie says:

      Hi Ann — coconut is definitely one of those “you either love it or hate it” kind of foods! Thanks for trying!

  6. dawdler says:

    Thanks for the dairy-free recipe. My son can’t tolerate dairy so this is great.

    “Healthy” might be pushing it, though ;)

    • stephanie says:

      Hi! Thanks for the share. “Healthy” is definitely one of those fine line words :) “Healthier?, minimal ingredients?, lower in sugar? no preservatives? delicious?” :) ENJOY!

Trackbacks

  1. [...] Healthy Caramel Recipe: Dairy free, refined sugar free. It’s still hardening up in our fridge at the moment, but it smells heavenly. [...]

  2. [...] Adapted from Luscious Berry Desserts. Caramel sauce barely adapted from eat whole life.I use Bob's Red Mill brand brown rice flour, arrowroot flour, and hazelnut flour when needed. Bob's [...]

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