As a vegan, do you tend to pick up weird and wonderful things on your travels that are so rare and magical you squirrel them away, waiting for the perfect recipe to use them in?
A lovely friend in Australia sent me a jar of this - vegan salted caramel sauce. I'd had this with me for months, waiting for the right moment to break the seal and dive into a pool of what I hoped would be caramel loveliness.
I'd love to show you a picture, but it looked like a car crash of a dessert. Nonetheless, it was such a tasty car crash it didn't last long enough to photograph. It was just me and a spoon, unable to stop shovelling sweet, sweet glory down my cake hole.
For a second go at using up the caramel sauce, I revisited an old favourite - millionaire shortbread. Who doesn't like millionaire shortbread? If it's you, I just don't want to know you. I thought better of you than that.
Normally if I want a millionaire shortbread, I just crack open a box of Lazy Day's finest, but with the salt caramel sauce at hand, I decided to make my own.
I just used this old shortbread recipe with the fat dialled down and the result pressed into a tart pan and baked til crisp. While it was still warm, I poured on the caramel sauce, left it for a bit, then topped it with vegan dark chocolate melted in a bain marie (or double boiler to you New World folks).
Looks OK, huh? It tasted phenomenal - sweet and salt in a beautiful crispy union.
The other jar of wow-they-make-that-vegan-too? that I put to work recently was jar of plant-based caviar. The Caviart caviar is (I think) based on seaweed and agar, and has been in my cupboard for a million years.
Alas, dear readers, the caviar was not as successful as the caramel. I tried it a few times, including with some sour cream on a bagel, and was a bit disappointed. The taste was sooooooo strong, it was like your favourite mushroom's evil twin. It's almost delicious, but goes right past fun and ends up in nasty.
So, while I was impressed that you get all sorts of unexpected stuff in vegan form, even caviar, I won't be buying it again.
As for the salted caramel sauce, I'll be buying that by the boat-load.