Happy Canada Day!
I didn’t almost forget about Canada Day, but I was going to let it pass without much acknowledgement because I hadn’t planned on making any Canadian dishes. Then, as I sat on the couch last night, I realized it would be wrong to not pay homage to the food of my countrymen. I am, after all, half Canadian thanks to Mama Buddha, and am even passport eligible. Not only that, I spent 18 years of summer vacations playing it its fields, swinging in its trees, swimming in its lakes and eating its food. Canada would have its day.
I was trying to think of what to make when I came across this article from the Huffington Post. As I perused the list of trademark Canadian foods, I was surprised to learn that some of those things that I’d eat at grandma and grandpa’s house were actually Canadian food, not just old people food. Go figure.
I settled on a combination dessert, an ice cream sundae. One of my favorite things in life. I figured I’d use some Tim Horton’s coffee to make a coffee-caramel to top ice cream sprinkled with some crushed Coffee Crisps.
As for Coffee Crisp, they’re a Canada-only candy bar that is sort of like a coffee flavored Kit Kat, not all that coffee-y and not really all that Kit Kat-y. Horrible description, I guess, but I just so happened to have some stowed away in my office desk drawer from my little field trip to Buffalo last November. And because Tim Horton’s has crossed the border into Michigan and Ohio, I regularly have some of the good stuff in my freezer for weekend coffee breaks. Done and Done.
While the candy bars aren’t exactly dairy or gluten free, there was no reason not to try and make the caramel tummy friendly. With that, I scoured the web and settled on some dairy-free replacements for the butter and cream.
It’s funny how necessity becomes the mother of invention and what started as a simple coffee-caramel sauce became something genius. BACON INFUSED coffee caramel sauce. How does this just happen, you may ask?
Well, like my grandma, I have jars of bacon fat on my stovetop leftover from my weekend bacon. I don’t actually know why I have this bacon fat collection since I honestly never use it. HOWEVER, last weekend I came across a recipe for what was essentially bacon-wrapped-date ice cream that used bacon fat, so I had reserved about 2 tablespoons of clean, debris-free fat in the event that I wanted to make it. Today, as I was waiting for the sugar to caramelize, I saw it just sitting there on the counter and it hit me that I should use that bacon fat to replace some of the butter from my original recipe. Genius, right? RIGHT? AND, what else is Canada known for? BACON! This was clearly meant to be.
In the end, I replaced the cream with a mixture of coconut cream and almond milk and for the butter I used a combination of the aforementioned bacon fat and coconut oil. The result was a caramel deeper in both color and flavor than my standby salted caramel. I may have a new standby.
So, while the star of this dish started out being the Coffee Crisp, it ended up being the caramel. I mean, how could it not be, really?
- 1 cup granulated sugar
- ¼ cup brewed coffee
- ½ cup original flavor almond milk (*preferred brand Califia Farms*)
- 2 TB coconut cream
- 2 TB bacon fat
- 2 TB coconut oil, solid
- 1 tsp espresso powder
- Dissolve the brewed coffee and sugar in a medium saucepan. Put over medium heat, stirring until the sugar is dissolved. Once the sugar starts to crystallize, stop stirring.
- Dissolve the espresso powder in the almond milk and set aside.
- Let the sugar go to a dark amber stage (since the color of the coffee may make it hard to see, let it get to 345F on a candy thermometer). Once it get to this point, remove from the heat and add everything else. Put back on the heat and stir until smooth and all the chunks are gone.
- You can probably use more bacon fat if you wanted. I will probably do that next time.
The caramel may seem really liquidy but remember that it will thicken as it cools. I may have left mine on a bit too long, but let it get to the point where it coats the back of a spoon. Overcooking it may lead to crystallization. If this happens, don’t freak out because it will still taste AMAZING.
I had mine with Almond Dream Vanilla and topped my sundae with pecans because I’m a sucker for nuts, and a sucker for pecans in particular. Plus, of all the nuts in my house, I thought that the woodsy flavor of the pecan complimented the richness of the coffee and bacon.