Caramelized onions, molasses and a touch of bourbon make these the best vegan baked beans on earth.
Coat the bottom of a skillet medium skillet with the oil and place it over low heat. (Note 2). Add the onions and toss them a few times to coat them with oil.
Allow the onion to cook, stirring occasionally, until very soft and caramelized, 30-40 minutes.
The whiskey goes in next, but before adding it, check to make sure the heat is still set at low. If there is any sizzling in the pan, lower the heat until it subsides. Alcohol vapors are flammable, and adding whiskey to a pan that's too hot could result in ignition. Keep a lid handy and use it to put out any flames. Now slowly begin adding the whiskey.
Stir the whiskey in and raise the heat to medium to bring it to a simmer. Allow it to cook until most of the liquid has cooked off, about 4 minutes.
Stir in the garlic and cook it with the onions and whisky for about 30 seconds, until fragrant. Remove the skillet from heat.
Preheat the oven to 350°F.
Stir the tomato paste, Worcestershire sauce, molasses, brown sugar, apple cider vinegar, soy sauce, mustard, paprika and liquid smoke together in a small bowl or container.
Add the beans, caramelized onion mixture, and tomato paste mixture to a medium (about 2 quart) baking dish. Stir everything to combine.
Taste-test the mixture and season with salt and pepper, if desired.
Cover and bake the beans for 40-45 minutes, until bubbly. Uncover and bake 10 minutes more.
Remove the dish from the oven and allow it to sit for a few minutes before serving.