A vegan caramel tart with no dates, a gingerbread shortcrust crust and whipped coconut cream! It’s perfect for the festive season but feel free to omit the gingerbread spices to enjoy it for any occasion!
Can you believe Christmas is just around the corner?! Although I’m busy working on my cookbook, I can’t help but day dream about treats to make for the holidays. As a kid, I rarely enjoyed gingerbread. However, you’ll be glad to know that as a young adult I’m making up for it through lengthy searches for cute gingerbread men on Pinterest. Some people do Tinder, I do Pinterest and I definitely prefer it that way.
The gingerbread crust
The crust is similar to a classic shortbread crust but uses oil instead of butter as I know many of you prefer it that way (if you prefer using butter, go for it). The shortbread can also be made into biscuits, like my vegan jam tartlets! Basically, the crust includes:
- Coconut sugar (or sub for brown sugar if preferred)
All you have to do is mix it all together and press it into the base. You can roll the pastry out and place it into a tart tin but I think it’s much easier to add it directly to the tart tin. Pastry with oil tends to break easier than pastry with butter so I find it’s easier to skip the rolling part.
The pictured tart tin is 20cm wide and 4cm deep. However, I wanted a shallow tart so only shaped the crust half way up the sides of the tin. I thought a shallow tart would be better for this caramel dessert so you get even amounts of all layers on every bite!
Making vegan caramel with no dates
My partner loves the kind of caramel slice which is made with sugar instead of dates and can be found in local bakeries. So, I endeavoured to make a caramel tart without dates!
I made caramel the classic way by combining granulated sugar and cream. For the sugar, you can use either coconut sugar or brown sugar. I easily substituted dairy cream for thick canned coconut cream. And to give the caramel a special touch, I added a hint of butterscotch through the addition of salted vegan butter.
Many of my readers and friends tried this caramel and gave such positive feedback. They said it was:
- Mind blowing
To make it even easier, you don’t need a blender to make this caramel! You can make it with a stove top and saucepan/pot and it takes no time to make.
Making whipped coconut cream
I used Nature’s Charm Coconut Whipping Cream (not sponsored) which whips so quickly and perfectly and is pictured above.
Alternatively, you can make whipped cream from store-bought canned coconut cream. Make sure you get a brand which has no emulsifiers as this prevents the coconut cream from separating which is what we want for this recipe! Just place the can in the fridge for 4 hours or overnight, scoop out the thick part of cream which has floated to the top and whip away.
Some brands of coconut cream definitely whip better than others so I’d encourage you to try out a few brands to figure out what you like. And it may surprise you but some UHT brands of coconut cream whip up like a dream!
I didn’t add any additional sugar to the coconut cream as it’s already a little sweet. Also, I think the caramel is a sweet bomb so sweetening the cream isn’t necessary.
This recipe and blog post was first published in December 2018 but has been updated to provide a more straight-forward recipe.
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Vegan caramel tart with a gingerbread crust
- 1 2/3 cup (200g) plain or all-purpose flour, plus extra for dusting
- 1/3 cup (85mL) light-tasting vegetable oil, such as sunflower, rapeseed or refined coconut, or melted vegan butter
- 2 tablespoons (20g) coconut sugar, or brown sugar
- 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
- 1 teaspoon ground ginger
- 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
- 1 cup (240mL) canned coconut cream (for whipping)***, chilled
- Preheat the oven to 180°C (355°F). Line or grease a shallow 20 cm loose bottom tart pan.
- To make the 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.
- If desired, set aside 1/4 cup of the crust mixture to make gingerbread men. Add the majority of the dough directly to the tart pan and press it against the bottom and sides to form a crust. Make sure there are no holes and the crust is as even as possible. Set aside.
- To make the gingerbread men: Flour a dry surface or chopping board. Place the remaining dough on top and flatten with a rolling pin. Use a cookie cutter to cut out gingerbread men and place onto a lined baking tray. Collect and re-roll the remainder of the crust and continue to make gingerbread men until the dough is used up.
- Place the gingerbread men and the tart crust in the oven. Bake the gingerbread for 5-10 minutes or until the edges are golden brown. Bake the crust for 15 minutes or until the surface is evenly golden brown. Set aside to cool.
- To make the caramel: Add all the ingredients to a medium saucepan over medium heat and bring to a gentle boil for at least 5 minutes. Reduce to a simmer and stir occasionally for about 10 minutes or until the caramel slightly thickens. The caramel will thicken more when it cools down. Remove the caramel from the heat and then slowly pour into the crust. Set aside in the fridge for at least 4 hours or until the caramel is dry to the touch.
- To decorate: Scoop the hard part of the coconut cream which has floated to the top of the can. Add the coconut cream to a stand mixer or mixing bowl and whisk until soft peaks form. Remove the tart from the case and dollop cream on top. Decorate with gingerbread men or as desired. Enjoy immediately or store in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 3 days.