If you need a gooey extra burst of flavor to your desserts, caramel sauce is a popular staple that’s seen drizzled onto most dishes.
It’s a simple recipe, being made of sugar, butter, and cream. Sometimes, water, vanilla and salt are also added to the mix. If you want salted caramel sauce, then go ahead and add the salt. You can be creative with other ingredients, but you can also keep it classic.
When the sugar first starts caramelizing at about 340 degrees, it will taste mild and buttery, but still very sweet. As the temperature continues to heat up more while cooking, even more sugar molecules break down and the caramel will begin to taste more complex and less sweet.
The exact history of caramel is unknown, it is recorded that about in 1650, American settlers were making hard candies in kettles. Between this time and the early 1880s, a candy maker added fat and milk while boiling sugar and water, creating what is now known as caramel.
Around this same time, caramels were also made with sugar beet juice because refined sugar was expensive and hard to come by.
With the invention of this delicious candy, so many different outlets were used, including turning that flavor of caramel into a sauce.
But sometimes when making your own homemade caramel sauce it becomes too loose, which looks sloppy and doesn’t taste as good in my opinion. This could be because too much liquid was mixed. So how do you get thicker caramel sauce? There are a few ways to do so, such as using starches and/or heat. Let’s dive into these options further.
Why Should You Thicken Caramel Sauce?
The best reason for thickening your caramel sauce is because the sauce is too runny. The caramel becomes too soft and doesn’t give you that stunning drizzle you’re anticipating.
Also, the color isn’t as pretty. Trust me on this one.
Caramel sauce has this decadent, rich brown color that is appealing to the eye. A loose, runny caramel sauce will look bland and unappetizing, and who wants that on their desserts?
How to Thicken Caramel Sauce on the Stove
Thickening caramel sauce by simmering it on the stove is the quickest and most efficient method that also creates the purest taste and form. Simmering allows the sauce to cook down and have time to thicken. You will be able to simmer off any excess liquid. Just make sure you keep an eye on it because it is easy to burn.
Start by pouring your sauce into a saucepan and place over medium heat. To avoid burning, try starting the heat lower and working your way up.
Stir your sauce occasionally until the excess liquid has evaporated. You’ll want to stir low in the pot to unstick it from the bottom and sides of the pan. Once your sauce is almost as thick as you want it to be, take it off the heat.
Keep in mind that caramel sauce is going to thicken as it cools, so wait and see if it gets as thick as you want it. Also note that as long as your sauce is hot, there will be some evaporation.
How to Thicken Caramel Sauce with Thickeners
There are a few methods to thicken your sauce with other ingredients. Starches are another really common option, as not only will they thicken the caramel, but they will create more volume.
Some creators actually like to do this intentionally to stretch the amount of caramel that they have. Although there are many options for starch thickeners, here are some of the top contenders:
You will only need one tablespoon of cornstarch to thicken your sauce. Then grab your loose caramel ¼ cup of very cold water.
Place your caramel sauce in a bowl and add one teaspoon of cornstarch as well as ½ teaspoon of water.
Continuously stir the caramel sauce and keep stirring to ensure it doesn’t come out lumpy. Soon enough you’ll have a perfectly thickened sauce ready to use.
Using tapioca flour has a similar method to cornstarch. The main difference between the two thickeners comes from how they are sourced. Cornstarch comes from corn, and tapioca flour comes from the root of the cassava plant. Tapioca flour tends to provide a glossy product while cornstarch is more matte, so if you prefer a glossy sauce, use this starch.
Grab a bowl and place your caramel sauce in it along with the tapioca flour and whisk it together until the powder is dissolved. The final product will be a glossy, thick, and tasty sauce.
Flour will also work, but the biggest difference between cornstarch and regular flour is that you’ll need more in order to thicken a sauce. Twice as much flour is usually needed to achieve the same thickening as cornstarch.
As for the difference between tapioca and regular flour, regular flour needs to cook a little longer to get rid of the powder-like texture it has when it’s raw.
You will add ¼ cup of flour and add 60 milliliters of cold water into your bowl with caramel sauce. Keep stirring until you get a creamy, thick consistency.
Top Tips for Thickening Caramel Sauce
If we have learned anything from this, it’s that there are ways to make sure your sauce will be as thick as you’d like it to be, it may just take a couple of tries.
There are also some tips to ensure you get a nice consistency in your sauce that aren’t thickeners.
Alter the Caramel Recipe
You can change the way you make the sauce in the first place. You can do this by reducing the quantity of milk you usually put in.
Generally speaking, the less liquid you use, the thicker the sauce will be.
Another way to alter the caramel sauce recipe is to add extra sugar quantity when creating a sauce. Lastly, instead of using milk, you can try using cream. Cream tastes the same as milk, but will give the sauce a creamier, heavier texture.
Do Not Use Hot Water
Mixing hot water and the starches will result in lumps, causing an incredibly rough and unpleasant consistency. To avoid this, only use cold water to mix when thickening.
It’s also important to mix the water in with your starch all the way through to avoid any lumps.
Use the Exact Starch Amounts
The quantity of each thickener is distinct from one another, so it’s important you follow step-by-step instructions carefully.
Too much or too little of a starch could result in a poor texture and not at all what you were looking for.
If you find caramel sauce typically too sweet, adding a tiny pinch of salt helps to cut the sweetness. You can also avoid adding extra sugar when thickening the sauce.