Crème de la Crème Caramel

Quick! Drop what you’re doing and whip up decadent, restaurant-quality dessert in a matter of minutes, without even turning on the oven. Don’t think it’s possible? With a properly stocked pantry and some shrewd thinking, you’re much closer to sweet indulgence than you may realize.

Spur of the moment, inspired by the full jar of speculoos spread sitting idly by in the cupboard, it suddenly became clear that this simple ingredient had a much greater destination than the average toast topper. Lending richness, body, and flavor all in one fell swoop, the cinnamon-scented cookie butter shines in this creamy custard. The slightly bitter edge of a dark caramel sauce envelopes each trembling round, adding greater depth than speculoos itself could hope to achieve. This is some swoon-worthy stuff, make no mistake. It may be a snap to throw together, but it sure doesn’t taste like it.

This is also my entry in the latest contest sponsored by So Delicious and hosted by Go Dairy Free.

Speculoos Crème Caramel


1 Cup Granulated Sugar
1/4 Cup Water
1/4 Teaspoon Apple Cider Vinegar

Speculoos Custard:

3 Cups So Delicious Vanilla Almond Milk
2/3 Cup Granulated Sugar
1/4 Teaspoon Salt
1 Cup Creamy Speculoos Spread
1 Tablespoon Agar Agar Powder
2 Teaspoons Arrowroot Powder
2 Teaspoons Vanilla Extract

Lightly grease six 6-ounce ramekins and set aside, but keep them nearby so they’re easily accessible.

Beginning with the caramel layer, combine the sugar, water, and vinegar in a small saucepan. Stir to moisten all of the sugar, but keep your spatula out of the pan from here on in, to prevent crystallization. Bring the mixture to a boil over medium-high heat and cook until the mixture starts to darken around the edges; 8 – 10 minutes.

Rather than stirring, gently swirl the pan to mix the sugar syrup and evenly color the whole mixture at once. This will also ensure that it doesn’t burn in the corners or on the bottom of the pan. Continue to cook until the sugar turns dark amber. It should be just on the edge of burning and smoking, but not so close that it smells acrid. Once it starts to darken, it will continue to take on color very quickly, so keep a very close eye on it.

Turn off the heat and immediately pour the liquid caramel into your prepared ramekins, equally distributing it between the six. Let the custard cups sit, undisturbed at room temperature for the caramel to harden.

Meanwhile, turn your attention to the custard portion of the dessert.

In a medium saucepan, vigorously whisk together the non-dairy milk, sugar, salt, speculoos, agar, and arrowroot. It can be difficult to break up the mass of speculoos spread at first, so you may find it easier just to toss everything into your blender and give it a quick blitz instead. Either way, make sure that there are no lumps remaining before placing the saucepan on the stove over medium heat. Whisk frequently but gently, taking care to scrape the bottom and sides of the pan as as it heats. Cook until bubbles begin to break regularly on the surface and the liquid has significantly thickened.

Remove the pan from the heat and whisk in the vanilla, stirring until fully incorporated. Carefully pour equal portions of the custard into the waiting ramekins. Tap the bottoms of the cups lightly on the counter to knock out air bubbles. Smooth out the tops with a spatula if necessary.

Let cool to room temperature before transferring to the fridge. Let rest until chilled; at least 2 hours, and up to 2 days.

To serve, simply tip each custard out of its ramekin and onto its own dessert plate. If it doesn’t release right away, run a thin knife around the edges and try again.

Makes 6 Servings

Printable Recipe

44 thoughts on “Crème de la Crème Caramel

  1. I am delighted. Delighted that your page is back up and a delighted you have shared another beautiful gluten free, egg free and dairy free dessert that I can enjoy too. So does the agar agar and arrowroot take the place of the usual egg binders in this dish? The other day I began looking for other egg alternatives and the powdered egg replacements are not gluten free.

    1. Yes! The agar and arrowroot act as thickeners here, making the egg unnecessary. I find that these two ingredients work best when cooked over direct heat on the stove, thus taking the oven (and traditional water bath) out of the equation. That sort of substitution won’t work for baked goods, but for custards, the texture can’t be beat.

      So happy that the blog is loading normally again for you, too!

  2. it’s amazing how such a flavorful and beautiful custard can come together in minutes without turning on the oven and with such minimal ingredients! the texture looks outstanding!

  3. This recipe is unreal Hannah! Thanks so much for entering – I’ve pinned your entry to the contest board!!

  4. Oh my. That looks so rich and amazing! I haven’t had speculoos spread before; we stuck to peanut butter or jelly for our morning toast as kids. But if it tastes as good as it looks, it’s definitely worth a try!

  5. woah woah.. i cannot beat this in the go dairy free contest! look at that texture! gosh i want some creme caramel right now.

  6. Whenever I see your food pics, I always think “I can’t make’s way too fancy”. But then I scroll through the recipe and it is so simple! How the heck do you do that? :-) I am going to have to try this. It looks delicious and I love smooth creamy desserts that don’t require too much jaw action.

  7. I have made a promise to my coworkers that I will be making lots of vegan desserts to share so they can experience the greatness that is vegan food. You can win a lot of people over with sweets! I think this would make an excellent addition to our next staff meeting…it will certainly smooth over the grumpiness that everyone feels about having to stay late.

  8. This looks amazing. Love love love caramel. Great that you found a egg and dairy free version so everyone can enjoy. Remind me to make some of these soon!!

  9. I just made this and can verify it is absolutely fantastic! I can’t wait to impress some guests with it. However I think I let my caramel cook too long as it was a really hard layer on the top when I unmolded it. Guess I’m going to have make it again with a a more watchful eye on the caramel so it doesn’t brown. Oh, and I used vanilla soy milk and added a real vanilla bean because I like the look of the little seeds. If you’re nervous about making the caramel, I bet just making the custard and serving with a drizzle of maple syrup would be yummy too.

    1. Wow, that was amazingly fast! I’m so thrilled you liked it, and don’t worry about the caramel layer being hard due to overcooking- If you let it sit for longer (maybe a day or so), it will soften up and become saucier over time. The maple topping is an excellent alternative suggestion though, regardless!

      1. You are so right — we just had a leftover one for lunch and it unmolded like a dream and there was plenty of caramel sauce. Perfect, perfect, perfect!

  10. Glad lilivee spammed you first now I don’t have to ;). What a triumph! Now I just need to find a recipe online for homemade speckoola’s spread as we don’t have it (sigh). I am sure that some far flung antipodean bright spark out there has invented one…

      1. Can’t you just mainline your ideas (at a cost) to your dear constant readers? You know…a sort of matrix style exchange? ;)

  11. Thanks to you for creating something vegan & specially a vegan crème caramel using speculaas spread! Another great & tasty way to use it! :) MMMMMMMMM!

  12. holy crap. i’m still holding out on cookie butter/speculoos spread, as i feel it screams danger, but man, this has me second-guessing it! looks fabulous!

  13. I have put a ban on speculoos spread in my house. If we buy it, the whole jar gets eaten with a spoon in less than 48 hours. I might have to buy a jar and hide it until I have time to make this though!

  14. This looks so yummy that I’ll urge myself to make this one and thanks for sharing such a lovely desert recipe.

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