Creamy, vegan salted caramel sauce with an umami twist: blonde miso!
As someone who will pick chips or a cheese plate nine times out of ten instead of dessert, it's no surprise when I want something sweet...I also want salty. Chocolate covered pretzels and salted caramel are strong category favorites.
I originally made this vegan caramel for a caramelized banana ice pop recipe on MindBodyGreen where I talked about why I categorize my eating habits as 'an indulgence a day'. I was so thrilled with how the caramel sauce set and tasted (not in your face coconut!) it's become a favorite of mine. With fall weather coming around I wanted to tweak the recipe for a richer taste. When I was in Japan this year, we took a cooking class that showed us a dips that use the various ranges of miso as a base. For those of you unfamiliar with miso, it's a paste of fermented soybeans. The miso will have different properties based on the length of fermentation time. The dip from the cooking class that used the light miso or 'blonde' miso was beyond amazing. Light miso is sweeter and more mild than the brown or red miso (dark miso). But whatever kind of miso you're using in your cooking, it's a very smart flavor builder. Here's why:
Umami is the "5th taste". When humans taste, we enjoy sugar, salt, bitter, acid and umami flavors based on receptors on our tongue. To generalize, umami tastes ‘meaty’. Umami has 3 additional sensations associated with it:
- Umami spreads across the tongue and coats it.
- Umami lingers in the mouth longer than other flavors (having major impact on aftertaste of foods).
- Umami promotes salivation: sourness and acidity promote salivation but umami triggers sustained secretion of saliva. Interestingly the saliva produced with umami is more viscous than with other tastes. Since saliva helps you taste and enjoy food more, think of the flavor impact umami has on enjoying a dish.
So by using an umami ingredient you are INTENSIFYING everything about the enjoyment of that recipe. Hell yes. We should definitely be doing this with dessert.
The sauce itself is creamy and thick but still pourable. I hate when you make a caramel sauce and it's SO thick, the only way to manipulate it is by heating it. You can dip straight out of the fridge. While I'm serving it with apples here, you could absolutely drizzle over cinnamon rolls, apple pie, serve on ice cream or mix it oatmeal.
Miso Vegan Caramel Sauce
- ¾ cup light brown sugar
- 1 cup coconut cream (solid part only, liquid drained)
- ¼ teaspoon sea salt
- 1 teaspoon high quality vanilla extract
- 2 Tablespoons blonde miso (light sweet miso)
- To make caramel, heat a medium pot over medium-high heat and add brown sugar.
- Stir for about 1 minute as the sugar begins to melt, then reduce heat to medium and stir for another 2 to 3 minutes.
- Slowly add coconut cream and stir to combine. If you add too quickly, sugar may clump. Keep whisking as the coconut cream heats and melts the sugar. If the sugar clumped, it's still salvagable so don't worry. Just continue to heat and stir as the sugar dissolives.
- Bring to a boil. Once a boil is reached, reduce to medium-low heat to simmer for 10 to 15 minutes to thicken.
- Add sea salt, vanilla and miso and stir.
- Remove from pan and cool for an hour on the counter. Refrigerate for at least two additional hours.
Dietitian Nutritionist and cookbook author sharing flavor-forward recipes and simplified science-driven wellness.