Vegan caramel tart with a gingerbread cookie crust and chocolate ganache topping! This indulgent dessert is perfect for the festive season.
Ingredients you'll need
This easy vegan caramel tart uses only basic pantry staples and equipment! No dates, no candy thermometer, no condensed milk and no blender. This includes:
Notes about the ingredients
Vegan butter of the block variety. I haven't tested this recipe with vegan spreadable butter, though it should work if you reduce the amount of maple syrup.
Nut butter such as cashew, almond or peanut butter for the caramel! Ideally, the nut butter will be as thick as possible (I used store-bought). I'd recommend cashew or almond as they're more neutral than peanut butter.
If you can't have nuts, sunflower butter will also work. Tahini won't work as it's too runny.
Maple syrup is our main sweetener for the caramel. This tart isn't overly sweet so feel free to add more maple syrup to taste.
The full list of ingredient quantities and instructions are in the gray recipe card at the bottom of this post.
Gingerbread cookie crust
The crust for this vegan caramel tart is just a classic shortbread pastry but with festive gingerbread spices. It's not as sweet as regular gingerbread cookies because the caramel filling is sweet enough!
The easiest way to make the crust is to add all ingredients to a food processor (or mixing bowl) and mix until just combined. Of course, you can mix all the ingredients in a bowl!
Simply roll out the pastry on a floured surface then transfer it to your tart tin. You don't need to grease your tin as there's enough butter in the pastry to prevent it from sticking.
Prick the bottom of your pastry with a fork then bake it in a preheated oven for 10-15 minutes or until cooked through. The tart crust doesn't really puff up in the oven so you don't need to blind bake it.
Vegan caramel with no dates
This tart features an indulgent caramel that doesn't include dates. Inspired by Food52, this caramel is made of vegan butter (or solid coconut oil), nut butter and maple syrup.
As much as I love authentic caramel, to make one that actually sets (like my vegan caramel slice) requires a candy thermometer or glass of iced water and can be a hit and miss.
To make this easy caramel, simply mix all ingredients in a bowl until smooth! The final caramel is sturdy yet gooey when straight from the fridge (like a millionaire's bar or caramel bar). Or after 30-60 minutes, it will soften a little.
If you don't have maple syrup, I'd recommend any other liquid sweetener. Unfortunately, substituting it with granulated sugar (such as brown or coconut sugar) results in a grainy caramel.
If you can't access vegan butter or maple syrup isn't affordable where you live, I'd recommend making either a:
- date caramel adapted from my cookbook
- caramel made of brown/coconut sugar, adapted from my banoffee pie
The date caramel is pretty easy as you just have to add all ingredients to a blender and blend until smooth.
The caramel made of brown/coconut sugar is my absolute favorite as it's extra gooey and doesn't have any nuts. You don't need a candy thermometer but cooking it to the right consistency requires a little patience and experience.
I've listed the 2 alternative caramel fillings in the recipe card below.
Chocolate ganache topping
And finally, the chocolate ganache topping is pretty straightforward and easy.
Simply melt the chocolate and coconut cream in a small saucepan until half of the chocolate is melted. Remove from the heat and allow the rest of the chocolate to melt. We're using gradual heat to prevent the chocolate from splitting!
Eventually, you'll have a mildly thick chocolate liquid. If there are any puddles of oil, it means that your ganache was overheated. To fix this, simply keep whisking or use a stick blender to emulsify.
When your caramel filling has set, pour the chocolate ganache on top and return to the fridge!
Yes, check out the notes in the recipe card at the bottom of this post.
Yes, if you use coconut sugar in the base!
Yes, I'd recommend whipped dairy-free cream as it balances out the richness of the caramel! The original version of this tart was topped with whipped coconut cream.
Other vegan Christmas desserts
Vegan caramel tart with a gingerbread crust
Gingerbread Shortbread Cookie Crust
- 1 ¼ cups (155g) all-purpose plain flour, plus extra for dusting (note 1 for gluten free)
- ⅓ cup (75g) vegan block butter, or solid coconut oil, chilled (note 2)
- 2 tablespoons (20g) packed brown sugar, or coconut sugar
- 1 ¼ tablespoons gingerbread spice, (note 3 for homemade blend)
- 2 tablespoons chilled water, or as needed
Caramel Filling (note 3 for alternatives)
- Preheat your oven to 180°C (355°F). Line or grease an 8-inch (20 cm) tart pan.
Make the gingerbread crust:
- Add all the ingredients to a mixing bowl or food processor and mix until evenly combined and it forms a dough. The dough should be soft but pliable and can be pinched between two fingers without breaking.
- On a lightly floured surface, roll out the pastry so it's about ¼ inch (5 mm) thick. Transfer it to your tart tin and press it against the bottom and sides to form the crust. Use any excess pastry to patch up any holes. Set aside.
- Bake the tart crust for 10-15 minutes or until the edges are golden brown or until the surface is evenly golden brown. Set aside to cool.
Make the caramel:
- Add all the ingredients to a mixing bowl and mix until well combined. Add more sweetener to taste if desired. Pour the caramel into the cooled tart crust and chill for 4 hours or until set.
Make the chocolate ganache topping and decorate:
- Add the chocolate and coconut cream in a small saucepan over medium-low heat. Mix until the chocolate is half melted and remove from heat. Allow the remaining chocolate to melt and mix the ganache until smooth.
- If your ganache separates, it's been heated too high. Simply whisk for 5 minutes or until emulsified. Or use a stick blender and blend until smooth.
- Pour the ganache on top of your caramel tart and return to the fridge for 1 hour or until set.
- Decorate the tart with gingerbread cookies or as desired.
- Leftovers can be stored in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 3 days or in the freezer for up to 1 month.
- For a gluten-free tart crust, use the same quantity of a good 1:1 gluten-free flour blend. Alternatively, use ½ cup (80g) gluten-free all-purpose flour and ¾ cup (75g) almond flour. The mixture is often too delicate to roll out, so I recommend pressing it directly into your tart tin.
- If you only have access to vegan spreadable margarine, you can still use it for the crust. Just omit the water and add more flour if needed.
- Or use ½ tablespoon ground cinnamon, ½ tablespoon ground ginger and ¼ tablespoon ground nutmeg.
- If you prefer a very gooey caramel without nut butter, use the caramel from my banoffee pie recipe and multiply it by 150%. If you prefer a date-based caramel, use 1 ¼ cups (250g) pitted dates (soaked in water for 4 hours then drained), ½ cup (125g) almond/cashew butter and 3 tablespoons (45g) coconut oil. Blend all ingredients until smooth and add a dash of maple syrup to taste, if desired.
- I'd recommend cashew butter as it's the most neutral. For a nut-free tart, use sunflower seed butter. Tahini will be too runny for this recipe.
This post and recipe was first published in December 2018 and has been updated for simplicity.
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