"Classic" Caramel Sauce

"Classic" Caramel Sauce

Details

This caramel sauce is made in the same way that classic caramel sauce is made — by caramelizing sugar; however this caramel sauce just happens to be dairy-, butter- and refined sugar-free, yet it's missing none of the flavor!
  • Serves: 1 cup
  • Active Time: 25 mins
  • Total Time: 35 mins
  • Views: 5,845
  • Success: 100%

Steps

Step 1: Caramelizing the Sugar

• 1 cup cane sugar*
• 3/4 cup water

Method

NOTE: IF YOU HAVE NOT MADE CARAMEL SAUCE BEFORE, PLEASE BE VERY CAREFUL. THE SUGAR IS EXTREMELY HOT AND CAN CAUSE SEVERE BURNS. Read the notes below if you have never made caramel sauce before.

Sugar Note: Most chefs say that only granulated sugar can be successfully caramelized; other sugars — such as brown sugar and unrefined sugar such as cane sugar — contain impurities that can inhibit caramelization. It’s those impurities that can burn before the sugar has time to caramelize. Adding a liquid, such as water, will help to mitigate this problem. That being said, it can be a little tricky when working with sugar, so don’t get frustrated.

Combine the sugar and water in a medium saucepan over medium to low heat and bring to a boil. Boil for 10 to 15 minutes or until the sugar caramelizes and turns golden brown. Do not stir the mixture as the sugar heats or it can start to crystallize. Instead, gently tilt and/or swirl the pan side-to-side to ensure the sugar cooks and colors evenly.

Step 2: Adding the Coconut Cream

• 1 cup full-fat coconut milk* (1-14 oz can)

Method

Note: Use only the thick coconut cream from the surface of the can. You may find it easier to separate the thick cream from the coconut water by placing the can of coconut milk in the refrigerator overnight.

Once the sugar is golden, immediately remove from the heat and carefully whisk in the coconut cream. Wear oven mitts and be very careful. The cold cream will splatter when it hits the hot sugar. The sugar may also clump a bit, but don’t worry, simply keep whisking until the sugar has been fully incorporated into the coconut cream.

At this point, the caramel sauce is ready to be used. If using as is, let cool slightly before using as it is still extremely hot.

Step 3: Adding Additional Flavorings | Optional

• 1/2 to 1 tsp fleur de sel*
• 1 to 2 pieces lemon zest

Method

Note: We used fleur de sel salt, but any other quality sea salt should work just fine. The amount used depends on how salty you like your caramel.

The salt and/or lemon zest provides a nice contrast against the sweetness of the caramelized sugar.

Any leftover caramel sauce can be kept in a plastic container or squeeze bottle and stored in the refrigerator for quite a few days.

Chef's Notes

When you caramelize sugar be sure to give it your undivided attention. It can turn from clear liquid to burnt caramel in a matter of seconds. At 350°F it is also very hot and can cause severe burning if it splatters on your skin. Also, make sure your pan and utensils are very clean because any food particles could cause the sugar to crystallize.

To prevent crystallization you can add an interfering agent; just a tiny amount of acid will do, such as cream of tartar or a drop of lemon juice. Don’t be intimidated, even experienced chefs sometimes burn the caramel or have the sugar crystallize.

If you are new to making caramel sauce, it’s a good idea to keep a deep bowl of water with lots of ice in it nearby. If some caramel lands on your hand, immediately put your hand right into the ice bath. It’s also a good idea to wear an oven mitt, especially when adding the coconut cream.

8 Comments

  • Kalayra A
    Kalayra A
    How much water do you use in this recipe?
  • Dawn T Rouxbe Staff
    Dawn T
    Sorry Kalayra, the water amount seemed to be missing from the ingredients list (it has been updated now). We use about 3/4 of a cup of water, but really you just need enough to keep the sugar wet as it melts. Cheers!
  • Susan L
    Susan L
    I notice you don't use any vanilla. Is it not necessary? And can you use canned coconut cream instead of the cream off the top of coconut milk?
  • Dawn T Rouxbe Staff
    Dawn T
    You could certainly add vanilla, if you like, but I typically don't — just personal preference — at least for caramel sauce. As for the coconut cream, the thicker cream is just so that the caramel sauce has a nice thick consistency. That being said, you could try using the whole can and see how it works out for you — just note that you will likely end up with a much thinner (and less rich) caramel sauce. Hope that helped. Cheers, Dawn
  • Susan L
    Susan L
    I tried using organic dehydrated cane sugar but it did not caramelize. Does it have to be a refined sugar to make caramel?
  • Ken R Rouxbe Staff
    Ken R
    Susan- Sucanat should work - as it does dissolve in water. You can start with a thinner syrup and cook it to a caramel. Plain granulated sugar is the most sure-fire way for sure. ~Ken
  • Susan L
    Susan L
    Well... I tried both the Sucanat and also some raw organic cane sugar and neither would caramelize... I might have worried about burning the Sucanat and removed it too soon as it is brown and hard to tell so never thickened (but tasted good). The light colored organic cane sugar boiled away but never got dark... was an ugly grayish color. So that didn't work either. So I'll try it with plain granulated sugar and see if that work. I've never made candy or done anything like this so obviously I need more practice. Thanks Ken and Dawn!
  • Ken R Rouxbe Staff
    Ken R
    Hi- I use organic cane sugar to make caramel. Works every time... I think you need to just wait longer, as the heat is what dictates the color and flavor change. Once color starts to develop, it happens very quickly, and you need to watch that it does not get too dark. It could also be that you are adding too much liquid to the sugar at first. ~Ken

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