• Sticky toffee pudding (Living on the Veg)Source: Living on the Veg
From a rich caramel sauce and sticky toffee pudding to decadent slices and cakes, these desserts deliver sweet satisfaction for those who don't do dairy.
16 Oct 2020 - 10:21 AM  UPDATED 19 Oct 2020 - 2:34 PM

--- Discover more dairy-free desserts and other great vegan recipes in Living on the Veg, Mondays 7.30pm from 19 October on SBS Food and then SBS On Demand ---

Love the rich temptation of caramel but ditching the dairy? The rich, sweet joy of caramel is, at its simplest, just sugar. But many sauces, bakes and sweets with caramel flavours include cream, milk and butter. So to help you out, here we've gathered a brace of brilliant dairy-free desserts that will satisfy any caramel craving.

Spiced apple bundt cake with miso caramel

White miso paste adds an extra complexity of flavour to the caramel sauce poured over Diana Chan's spiced bundt cake, which is made with a double dose of apple - apple sauce and chopped apples - and four different spices.

Sri Lankan coconut caramel custard (watalappan)

This rich, silky dessert is made with jaggery and coconut milk. Baked and then chilled, it's a perfect summer dessert, with roasted cashews providing a counterpoint of crunch to the sweet coconut-caramel custard. 

Sticky toffee pudding

"This, I think, might be my favourite dessert of all time," says Ian Theasby - half of the BOSH! duo behind four cookbooks, a popular YouTube channel and new SBS show Living on the Veg. He and his BOSH! mate, Henry Firth, whip this up in the first episode of the show. "It’s spicy, it’s sticky, it’s sweet. It’s naughty," Theasby says as the pair tuck into their dessert, a rich pudding topped with vegan ice-cream and an indulgent sauce. The rich sauce is made with dairy-free butter, maple or golden syrup and dark brown sugar (the duo suggest muscovado: "super rich in flavour, with an almost smoky taste," says Firth) and finished with a few spoonfuls of oat cream (as they do in the show) or coconut cream (as they do in their first book, BOSH!). It's silky and rich and completely indulgent poured over the pud.

Sticky toffee pudding

Salted caramel chocolate bars

A nut butter and puffed rice base is covered with a layer of caramel (a simple mix of dates, nut butter and salt) and topped with a layer of homemade chocolate. Keep in the fridge for up to a week for indulgence as desired.  

Vegan, gluten-free salted caramel tart

Rich chocolate and caramel layer over a base made with cashews, macadamias and dates in this no-bake chilled tart. The middle layer gets its caramel goodness from Medjool dates, almond butter, rice malt syrup and a pinch of salt.

Gluten-free salted caramel tart

Chocolate peanut slice

Get your snap, crackle and crunch on with Donna Hay's no-bake slice, which is gluten-free as well as dairy-free. A glorious mix of fresh dates, peanut butter, puffed rice and roasted peanuts come together at the heart of this easy treat. 

Chocolate peanut slice

Carrot cake with caramel frosting

This double-layer carrot cake by Ella Woodward, from her Deliciously Ella cookbook, is smothered in a super-simple caramelly frosting made by blending banana, Medjool dates, almond butter, cinnamon and a little bit of coconut oil. 

Recipe from Deliciously Ella by Ella Woodword. Hodder & Stoughton Publishers 2015. Photograph © Clare Winfield.

Coconut caramel bread (fa’ausi)

One of Samoa's favourite sweets, fa’ausi consists of a creamy caramel made with coconut milk, which is poured over cubes of baked taro or fa’apapa, hard coconut bread, which hold their shape when soaked with caramel.

Sticky fig pudding

Another glorious take on the classic pud, this recipe comes from Melbourne chef Shannon Martinez. She puts a twist on things with a little garam masala in the pudding mix, to balance out the sweetness. 

Hemp tahini date-caramel bars

"Use any nut butters you please, but I particularly like almond and sesame butters together. There's something magical about dates and tahini in a sticky sweet union!" says Renee Byrd of her recipe, which brings hemp and chia seeds and chopped pistachios together in a rich date, tahini and nut butter caramel. 

Want more? Take a look at our dairy-free desserts recipe collection

More dairy-free desserts
Coconut popsicles

A terrific dairy-free ice-cream popsicle that doesn't require an ice-cream maker. Simply whisk and freeze. Experiment with flavours like pine-lime, raspberry coconut and choc-coconut.

St Clements polenta cake with blueberries

This is a simplified version of a classic Claudia Roden recipe, and I really don’t think it’s lost any of its charm in my adaptation. 

Brownies with coconut–date swirl

These brownies are dense, but not heavy. They’re quite rich, so you won’t need much to feel satisfied – the perfect match for a cup of coffee.

Coconut-palm sugar pancakes (kueh dadar)

If you can’t get fresh pandan leaves for the pancakes, substitute 1 teaspoon pandan paste, which you can easily purchase from Asian or Indian food stores. It will make the pancakes very green!

Tahini cakes with orange blossom glaze

This recipe is traditionally made during Lent because it contains no animal products. As these little Greek tahini cakes contain no butter or eggs they tend to be on the crumbly side, but they’re delicious nonetheless, especially when drizzled with the orange blossom glaze. Best eaten on the day of making.

Maple nut "cheese" cake

This maple nut "cheese" cake is my favourite dessert at the moment and I wonder if I will ever tire of it. The ground soaked nuts provide texture for the base and creaminess for the filling, meaning this dessert is also gluten, lactose and egg free. The soaking liquid from the nuts is full of nutrients so don’t throw it away. Either drink it yourself or give your plants a little drink.