If any of you are living with food allergies, intolerances or celiac disease, you understand how difficult it can be to give up particular foods. Sometimes when you find the culprit of your body’s ills you feel a sense of relief to empty your cupboards of the disagreeable food item. Other times you may have a hard time letting go, feeling a bit like a child who has to give up a beloved security blanket.
Giving up gluten was initially a challenge for me, but I also felt a sense of elation that I never had to feel “that way” again. Good riddance to the constant nausea, stomach pain, headaches, body aches, and exhaustion. My brain made the connection fairly quickly and I have never felt inclined to cheat or wanted to “sneak” a bit of wheat or gluten. My mind gets that wheat=sick as a dog and that’s a good thing.
My relationship with dairy is a bit more complicated. From a fairly early age I had a love affair with dairy that no one was going to get in the way of. I was happiest when I was eating grilled cheese sandwiches, pounding tall glasses of milk, and eating string cheese like a champ. I didn’t realize that waking up nauseous, snoring like a frat boy, a chronic sore throat, and being riddled with canker sores was related. Even when I would make a fleeting connection between how I felt and what I had been eating, I brushed it off and reached for a milkshake. Denial is a powerful thing.
At this point of the story you may want to know how I finally made the connection? Well apparently I’m a slow learner because it took my diagnosis of celiac disease and giving up gluten for me to finally realize that dairy was not my BFF. Clearing the decks of one offending food substance helped me catch the next culprit. I felt betrayed, I mourned, and I tried to hang on dearly to dairy products but it was futile. I tried goat cheese, sheep’s milk, and double-doses of lactaid to no avail. There was no way around it, my dream of one day owning a jersey cow and churning ice cream from her rich milk was over. Five years in to my gluten-free life and I’m okay (almost) with the fact that dairy and I play for opposite teams.
My long lost love just motivates me to create recipes for delicious substitutes….things that make this dairy-free life seem a little less deprived. This recipe for dairy-free sweetened condensed milk definitely delivers and it’s easy to make. Use it 1:1 in recipes that call for traditional condensed milk and I’m certain your guests won’t know the difference.
Feel free to adjust the amount of sugar or sweetener to your taste. The recipe works best with anywhere from 1/3 to 1/2 cup of your sweetener of choice.
- 1 can of unsweetened coconut milk
- 1/3 cup- 1/2 cup granulated sugar, honey or light agave syrup
- 1 tablespoon brown sugar (optional but adds good flavor)
- Place the coconut milk, sweetener of choice, and brown sugar (if using) into a saucepan and whisk gently over medium heat for 2-3 minutes. This will help the solid bits of coconut milk melt and incorporate with the sugar.
- When the mixture is just beginning to bubble around the edges, reduce the heat to the lowest flame/setting.
- Set a timer for one hour (you may need to go a bit longer depending on your stove) and simmer uncovered, whisking every 5-10 minutes to release steam and aid in evaporation.
- The mixture will reduce by about half and should be quite thick. You will also notice that it is a darker color. Remove from heat, stir thoroughly and pour into a glass jar or container. Cool in the refrigerator. It will continue to thicken as it cools.
- Use as needed in recipes or to stir into coffee or tea.