It’s fall here in Michigan, the varieties of apples at the market are astounding…Vestar, Zestar, Molly, Blondee…. to name a few new ones I saw today. I just finished making a batch of this dairy free caramel apple dip, and my parents stopped by with a new apple variety called “Smitten“. Never heard of that variety either, but we sliced it up and it’s fantastic. Especially with caramel!
I have a love-hate relationship with caramel making.
On one hand, I love the magic of turning sugar and water into caramel. My dairy-free salted caramel ice cream recipe still amazes me when I make it. How can such magic come from simple ingredients?
On the other hand, I’ve burned a lot of caramel (and myself) learning to make it properly. Cleaning burned caramel out of a saucepan in no small task.
This dairy free caramel apple dip is as foolproof a caramel method I’ve come up with, and I’ve made A LOT of caramel.
The most basic (and difficult) caramel recipes start with heating straight sugar in a saucepan. As the sugar melts, it starts to caramelize quickly. This might be good for some people, not for me. This method usually results in burning half the sugar while the rest is trying to melt. It’s a mess.
This recipe gives you two buffers against disaster: water and corn syrup.
The water dissolves the sugar first, and allows you time to calmly caramelize the sugar as the water slowly evaporates off. The corn syrup is an invert sugar and keeps crystals from forming and generally smooths the whole process out.
You still have to watch the caramel closely, but it’s not going to go from clear to burnt in the blink of an eye.
Some Michigan apples from the Fulton Street Farmer’s Market!
Some Dairy Free Caramel Apple Dip Tips
My kids are starting to cook from Speedbump. Until now, I’ve been writing recipes to other moms with some understanding of baking. Going forward, I need to be writing to the level of a 12 year old boy, in order to avoid disasters in my own kitchen. Hence…the baking tips.
- Wear long sleeves. Caramel can spatter, so protect your arms.
- When in doubt, heat slowly and err on the side of under-caramelizing the sugars. You can always keep heating the sugar to deepen the caramel, you can’t go back once it’s burnt. Sometimes it’s helpful to spoon a little caramel on a white plate to see the true color.
- If you mess up, try again. It’s just a cup of sugar and few squirts of corn syrup. No biggie.
- If you want more salt, add some flaky salt at the end. Vanilla is really expensive right now, so I swap out bourbon at the end.
- Dairy-free caramel apple dip is perfect for lunch-making. I mean, who really wants plain apple slices, when caramel is an option. We use 2oz condiment containers from the restaurant supply store.
This dairy free caramel apple dip is perfect for sliced apples or drizzling into coffee!
- 1 1/4 cup sugar
- 1/4 cup water
- 2 T. corn syrup
- 2/3 cup dairy-free creamer
- 4 T. dairy-free margarine
- 1/4 t. salt
- 1 t. vanilla
- Measure the dairy-free creamer out into a cup, and keep close to the stove.
- In a medium sized heavy saucepan, add the sugar, water, and corn syrup.
- Bring to a boil, stirring to dissolve the sugar.
- Lower the heat to a gentle boil. Without stirring, cook until the mixture is a nice caramel color. (You can swirl it around, but don’t stir with a spoon or anything) This usually take 5 minutes. If you’re unsure if the color is dark enough,remove it from the heat and dab a bit on a white plate. If it’s too light, keep cooking a touch more. If it’s burnt, just start over.
- Once you’ve achieved the caramel color, remove from the heat and set on a back burner, far away. It will keep darkening on the heat, so get moving.
- Quickly pour the 2/3 cup dairy-free creamer into the caramel and stand back.
- It will bubble and steam and spurt.
- Once it calms down, bring the saucepan forward onto the burner (still warm, but turned off). Stir to dissolve the caramel. Heat a little, if needed, to dissolve hard caramel clumps.
- Add the dairy-free margarine, salt, and vanilla extract. You can add more flaky salt if you want salted caramel. You can add some bourbon if you want bourbon caramel.
- Store in the fridge for up to 2 weeks.
I used Country Crock Plant Butter Sticks with Olive Oil today for my dairy-free margarine. I’ve fallen in love with this stuff. I used Silk Soy Creamer for my dairy-free creamer. See my posts on dairy-free butter alternatives and dairy-free milk alternatives if you need some product ideas.
If you don’t have a dairy allergy, just use heavy creamer and butter.
- Category: Dessert
- Method: Stovetop
- Cuisine: American
Keywords: dairy free caramel sauce, vegan caramel sauce, dairy free caramel apple dip