How to Thicken Caramel Sauce
If you’ve already made a batch of caramel sauce but find that it’s too thin for your tastes, you’ll need to thicken the sauce. The most efficient way to thicken a dessert sauce is by simmering it on the stove, so the sauce cooks down. Alternately, you can make a thicker caramel sauce by changing the amount of milk or sugar in the recipe, or by substituting cream for the milk.
Thickening Caramel Sauce on the Stove
Simmer the sauce on your stove.If you’ve just finished making a caramel sauce and think that the sauce is too thin, let the caramel sauce simmer and cook down on your stovetop. Try cooking for about 10 minutes for a thick sauce. As the liquid in the caramel sauce evaporates, you’ll be left with a thicker sauce.
- Keep a close watch on your sauce as it thickens. Stir the caramel constantly. Otherwise you’ll be left with a batch of too-think caramel.
Let hot caramel sauce cool.If you’ve just finished making your initial batch of caramel sauce and find that it’s too thin, let the caramel cool. As the sauce cools, it will thicken.If you’re unsure if your freshly-cooked sauce is the right consistency, let it cool first.
- It’s easier to reheat and thicken caramel sauce than to add liquid to make the sauce thinner.
Re-heat and simmer refrigerated sauce.If you’ve bought thin caramel sauce from the store—or been given it as a gift—you can thicken it on the stovetop too. The same concept applies as with a thin home-made caramel sauce. Pour the sauce back into a saucepan, and heat it on medium heat (around 4) on your stovetop range until the sauce begins to simmer and thicken.
- If you’re concerned about burning the bottom layer of your cold caramel sauce, start the burner on low heat (2 or 3) until the sauce has started to warm up.
Altering the Caramel Recipe
Reduce the amount of milk.If you know that you want a thick caramel sauce, cut down on the amount of milk that the recipe suggests. Leave out about 1/3 or 1/2 of the recommended milk. This will result in a caramel sauce that’s thicker and that you won’t have to spend extra time simmering.
- For example, if a recipe calls for 1.5 cups (360 mL) of milk, try only using 1 cup (250 mL).
Add more sugar to the sauce.Most caramel sauces are made by caramelizing sugar and adding milk and a little salt. If you increase the amount of sugar in the recipe you’ll end up with a thicker caramel. Try increasing the sugar by about 1/3. The amount of milk suggested by the recipe, then, will leave you with a thick caramel sauce.
- Be aware that this will also increase the sweet, caramel flavor of the sauce. If you want a caramel sauce with a milder flavor, avoid adding the extra sugar.
Substitute cream for the milk.If you want a thick caramel sauce but would rather avoid altering the amounts of ingredients given in a recipe, you can simply use heavy whipping cream instead of milk. The whipping cream will taste the same as milk in the final product, but will produce a thicker sauce.
- Switching out milk for cream will result in a rich, heavy caramel sauce.
Adding Thickeners to Caramel Sauce
Thicken the sauce with cornstarch.For each cup (240 mL) of caramel sauce that you need to thicken, run 1 tbsp (14.7 mL) of cold water into a measuring cup, and slowly stir in 1 tbsp of cornstarch. Pour the cornstarch mixture into your pot caramel sauce, and stir constantly.
- Keep the sauce on low heat until it begins to thicken. Then remove the sauce from the stove and let it cool.
Add flour to the sauce.If you want to thicken your caramel sauce with flour, start by filling a measuring cup with ¼ cup (60 mL) of cold water for each cup (240 mL) of caramel sauce that you want to thicken. Mix 2 tbsp (30 mL) into the cold water. Then add the flour mixture into the thin caramel sauce.
- Stir the sauce regularly until it takes on a thicker consistency.
Add tapioca to the caramel sauce.If you want a thickener that will not alter the glossy color of the caramel, try tapioca flour (not pearls). Simply add small amount to your sauce to thicken it.Start with about 1 tsp (5 mL) and whisk it into the sauce until fully dissolved. If the sauce still isn’t thick enough, add another tsp of tapioca flour.
- Keep in mind that adding ingredients to your caramel sauce other than sugar and milk (and a little salt) may slightly alter the taste of the sauce.
- As always be careful when working with a hot stove. Don’t allow young children near while you’re cooking, and avoid burning yourself on the range.
- Avoid using arrowroot to thicken your caramel sauce. Arrowroot, although it’s a starch-based thickening powder, does not mix well with dairy and will leave your sauce with a slimy texture.
Video: How do you thicken up caramel sauce
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