One of the best things you can master is a good, thick caramel sauce. It is the type of thing that you can add to just about any dessert and it will immediately taste better. When you’ve mastered this, you will be able to win every bake-off, holiday party, or bake sale for your kid’s soccer team.
You will feel a surge of pride when you see everyone run right for your dish. It is versatile and can be used as a filling, a topping, a dip, or even a garnish on the plate.
However, the perfect caramel sauce does need to be thick. A thin sauce might as well come out of a jar. The texture is what makes it feel luxurious, gourmet, and better than anything anyone has ever had. However, how can you thicken that caramel sauce without ruining it? If you’re like me, you’re afraid of messing with something that is already pretty good.
Fear not, I’ve come to help you.
How To Make Caramel Thicker
There are a few different ways that you can thicken caramel sauce that is too thin. The method that you will want to use depends on the type of recipe you will be using. All of the methods mentioned here will require a keen eye and your full attention, so don’t try to thicken your sauce while binge-watching your favorite show (from personal experience).
Allow It To Simmer
The most efficient (and the best) way to thicken your caramel sauce is to just give it time to thicken. You can simmer off any excess liquid. You will need to be careful about burning it, but you can definitely get the job done this way.
For the purest taste and form, this is the only way to go. It’s probably how your mom or grandmother would thicken their caramel sauce.
However, most of us have other stuff to do in the day, so only do this if you have time. If your sauce is already nearly as thick as you want it, you may have the best results with this method as well.
- Pour your sauce into a saucepan and heat over medium. You may want to start lower and then move up if you are nervous about burning.
- Stir your sauce occasionally until the excess liquid is evaporated. You want to stir low in the pot to unstick it from the bottoms and sides of the pan. Stirring on the top will just lengthen the process.
- Once your sauce is almost as thick as you want it, take it off the heat.
Remember that caramel sauce is going to thicken as it cools. You should wait a bit to see if it is as thick as you want. As long as your sauce is still hot, there will be some evaporation.
Use A Starch Thickener
Another common option to thicken caramel filling, in particular, is to use a starch thickener. This will not only thicken your caramel, but it will create more volume. Some people will do this intentionally to stretch the amount of caramel that they have. There are plenty of options out there for starch thickeners, but I’d suggest either tapioca starch, flour, or cornstarch.
|Tapioca Starch||1.5 Tablespoons|
Take the measurements of your starch from the list above, your thin caramel, and ¼ cup cold water (the colder, the better) for each cup of your caramel mixture.
- Pour your thin caramel sauce into a saucepan and heat it over low heat. Do not go too high.
- Create a slurry out of the starch and your water. Mix them extremely well.
- Add the mixture to the saucepan and stir it occasionally. The heat will cause it to thicken.
- If it does not thicken, add a little more of the slurry.
- Take off the heat and serve. You may need to reheat if you are going to store the caramel sauce.
Be sure to check the measurements carefully. You can play around with the measurements a bit, especially if your caramel sauce looks like it is still too thin for your recipe.
Remember that mixing is going to be your best friend here: the more you can mix everything together, the better. Try not to get any lumps as they are nearly impossible to get out once they form.
Use Sugar To Thicken Caramel Sauce
If you notice that your sauce is going to be too thin as soon as you start making it, you should use sugar as soon as possible. The earlier you catch the mistake, the better this method will work.
This isn’t precise, as the amount you will have to use depends on how thin your sauce is now, how thick you want it to be, and your original recipe. I recommend writing down your own measurements so that you don’t forget.
- Start by adding more sugar to your sauce. Start by adding in half a tablespoon at a time.
- Keep stirring until you don’t see any granules in your sauce.
Once again, you need to be careful about burning your caramel sauce. Sugar burns very easily and it will destroy the taste of your caramel (and leave you with a very stinky kitchen). This will make your caramel a bit sweeter than it was before, so only do this method if you don’t have a ton of thickening to do.
Try Altering Your Milk
If your caramel recipe is too thin and you know that before you even start, you can alter your recipe. The easiest place to do that is to simply use a percentage of the milk. Try using only half or ¾ of the milk that your recipe calls for and see how that works out.
If you don’t want to use milk, you can try using whipping cream instead of milk. If you are eating caramel, the calories don’t really matter anyway.
It may seem sacrilegious to alter your caramel recipe by adding something or taking something out, but if you need a thicker caramel, it is really the best way to do it. If not, I’d suggest trying to evaporate some of the liquid out before adding in any starches or thickeners. I
t can be really difficult to go back from adding in those thickeners and unless you are really in a jam, it might not be the best option for you.