How to make almondmilk caramel sauce

Almondmilk caramel sauce

After 11 months of making dead end promises to you guys via email, it’s finally here: ALMONDMILK CARAMEL SAUCE.

This is kind of big news because it means we no longer have to waste $2-3 on inconsistent cans of coconut milk. It’s also big news because this stuff tastes so much more like the real thing and, admittedly, kicks my coconut milk variety to the curb. Although there are times when I really enjoy the coconut undertones of coconut milk caramel sauce, for an everyday application I’d prefer something that tastes a bit more like the stuff that’s made with heavy cream, and that’s where almondmilk comes in. Califia Farms almondmilk, to be exact. Chances are you’ve seen their almondmilk (and cold brew coffee! and citrus juices!) at your local Whole Foods or natural grocery store. Or maybe not because damn near every time I go to Whole Foods they’re sold out. But next time you’re there, keep your eyes peeled for the good stuff that comes in the shapely bottles with the hella sleek design – because yes, it tastes just as delicious as it looks.

So delicious that Thom – who has never been the kind of guy to relax with a glass of anything that isn’t water or beer – regularly pours himself a generous portion of the toasted coconut stuff. I’ve always thought it was strange until I was eating chocolate and dried apricots out of the fridge the other day and thought I should probably stop hating on his new almondmilk habit and give it a go. So I screwed off the cap and took a heavy straight-from-the-carton swig of it. And now I’m an almondmilk drinker, too.

But enough about the almondmilk – how about some real deal caramel?

Calfia Farms AlmondmilkHomemade brown sugarAlmondmilk caramel sauce in the makingAlmondmilk caramel sauce

Notes: For this recipe I used Califia’s unsweetened almondmilk, but I’ve also made it with their toasted coconut version and it turned out just the same. I know the addition of brown rice syrup and cream of tartar is annoying, but they’re crucial components of this caramel sauce as both are necessary to prevent crystallization – so don’t leave them out. Seriously, don’t. If you can’t get your hands on brown rice syrup you could use corn syrup (not high fructose) but make sure it’s non-GMO because genetically modified foods are bad news, y’all. If you don’t have cream of tartar, 1/4 teaspoon of lemon juice will work in a pinch. Also, it’s important that you don’t mix the sauce more times than specified in the instructions or else you may interrupt the caramelization process.

Update: A number of you have emailed asking if there’s any way around the rice syrup and cream of tartar. For long term storage, no. But if you plan on eating the caramel immediately, yes. Without the rice syrup and acid, the sauce will crystallize within a day.

This post is sponsored by Califia Farms. All opinions are my own, and I think Califia rules.


1 cup Califia Farms unsweetened almondmilk
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup cane sugar
1 tbsp brown rice syrup
1/8 tsp cream of tartar

In a medium size saucepan over medium heat, combine the milk, sugars, brown rice syrup, and cream of tartar; stir with a silicone spatula (or any silicone device capable of such a task) then let the mixture cook for 25 minutes, without stirring. While cooking, it should boil as shown in the photo above. If it’s not boiling after five minutes on the stove, increase your heat just a bit. After 25 minutes, give it a good stir with the spatula then remove from heat if you prefer caramel sauce that’s thick but pourable from the fridge. If you’d prefer something that needs to be warmed (in a hot water bath) before pouring, cook for an additional 2 minutes. Pour caramel sauce through a sieve and into a glass jar then seal with a lid (do not let it cool without a lid, as you may get a thick layer of hardened caramel on top). Refrigerate for at least four hours; sauce will thicken as it cools. Will keep in the refrigerator for up to one week.

Yield: about 1/2 cup caramel sauce


  • Reply Belinda@themoonblushbaker 4 February 2014 at 7:30 AM

    This is the best thing since salt on caramel! I was looking for non dairy alternative to caramel!
    I could not thank you enough for this recipe and I am thinking about the other nut milks you could use this with.

  • Reply Emma Galloway 4 February 2014 at 7:35 AM

    Oh yes, you are the caramel queen! Yum. xx

  • Reply Ashley 4 February 2014 at 7:36 AM

    THIS is INSANE. I can’t believe how simple your instructions are. I remember searching for caramel recipes when I was writing the doughnut book and OH MY god there are way too many variations with way too many directions. This definitely looks more my speed and caramel is pretty much my favorite sweet thing ever. We tried one of the Califia coffee drinks and it was superb. Not too sweet or milky, so good. Well done, lady!

  • Reply Scully 4 February 2014 at 7:47 AM

    Womp womp, sneaky carrageenan in the ingredients list (and “natural flavors” HA!). Sigh. And my search continues.

    This sauce looks gorgeous, tho. :)

  • Reply Jessica 4 February 2014 at 8:15 AM

    Wow! I can’t believe how beautiful the almond milk packaging is. The sauce looks divine, as well. I wouldn’t mind waking up to this in the morning!

  • Reply Katie @ Veggie and the Beast 4 February 2014 at 8:42 AM

    The caramel looks amazing! I just bought my first jug of Califia Farms Almondmilk this weekend. I’ve become obsessed with how the vanilla variety tastes in my coffee and chai tea. Seriously so much better than any other brand I’ve tried.

  • Reply Raquel 4 February 2014 at 9:14 AM

    Hi! Just wondering if another type of almond milk could work with this recipe if I can’t find the Califia Farms one. I regularly use the Blue Diamond Unsweetened Vanilla one and the Trader Joe’s Unsweetened Vanilla one.

    • Reply Ashlae 4 February 2014 at 9:27 AM

      Hi Raquel –

      I’m not sure because I haven’t tried it. Califia almondmilks are much creamier than other nut milk varieties, so the caramel sauce may not thicken the same. But I’m sure it would still be delicious. Let me know how it turns out!

  • Reply Kimberly 4 February 2014 at 9:30 AM

    Non dairy caramel….O…M…yes.

  • Reply Alli 4 February 2014 at 9:32 AM

    Any suggestions instead of corn or brown rice syrup? My husband can’t do ANY grains due to dietary intolerances. This looks AMAZING and I would love to try it (we are huge Califia fans!) but just need something to sub for that pesky grain syrup!

    • Reply Ashlae 4 February 2014 at 1:16 PM

      Hi Alli –

      Unfortunately I don’t know any alternatives, but you could try adding an additional 2 tablespoons of cane sugar in place of the syrup and increasing the cream of tartar to 1/4 teaspoon. You’ll also want to cook the caramel at a lower temperature for a longer period of time. Let me know how it turns out if you give it a go!

    • Reply Maria sobolewski 22 February 2014 at 7:46 PM

      Dark brown sugar has more molasses and so doesn’t need any other syrup or even tartaric acid to stop crystallization. Or add molasses (treacle, golden syrup or liquid glucose) to sugar. I make a gooey toffee just with “dark brown sugar” and some water. A more creamy caramel can be made with addition of almond butter (or peanut, etc) and water if no almond milk available. This is very forgiving of heat and liquid variations to make sauce, fudge, toffee, etc. Yumm.

      • Reply Maria sobolewski 25 February 2014 at 8:30 PM

        If you do have unwelcome crystallization, adding some acid such as cider vinegar or citrus juice, (or citric or tartaric acid), and gently reheating can resurrect the smooth texture, if you do not have extra glucose syrup or molasses (or agave, brown rice). Some info on sugar confectionery is here and here to help with temps and percentages.

      • Reply Melanie 29 September 2014 at 4:34 PM

        Would real 100% maple syrup be considered vegan? Along with , could it replace the brown rice syrup?


        • Reply Ashlae 29 September 2014 at 4:56 PM

          Hi Melanie –

          Of course! And unfortunately it cannot. But you could use corn syrup (just not the high fructose variety).

  • Reply Amanda @ Once Upon a Recipe 4 February 2014 at 10:44 AM

    I love how easy this caramel sauce is! I don’t think I will be able to find Califia almondmilk here, but I might have to give the recipe a go with the options that I do have available to me.

  • Reply Stefanie 4 February 2014 at 11:34 AM

    So smart! Pinning this one to keep on file next time I want to make something fancy!

  • Reply Melissa @ Nourish By Melissa 4 February 2014 at 12:50 PM

    this is such a clever idea! Looks incredible too! I’m a huge caramel fan and I have all these ingredients on hand so I will definitely be giving it a try! Thanks for sharing :)

  • Reply Melissa @ Treats With a Twist 4 February 2014 at 12:58 PM

    Califia is seriously the only Almond Milk I buy now. I make my own, but when almonds get too pricey (ah hem, now) I buy this stuff like crazy! It’s seriously the best! I’ve never loved a milk so much! Can’t wait to try your caramel :)

  • Reply Katrina @ Warm Vanilla Sugar 4 February 2014 at 2:11 PM

    This sauce is awesome – I love the dark colour of it and can’t wait to try!

  • Reply Katie @ 24 Carrot Life 4 February 2014 at 2:16 PM

    Wow! I would have never thought almond milk could do this. I can’t wait to try! My boyfriend has a serious caramel addiction so this is going to be great.

  • Reply Jaimie 4 February 2014 at 2:40 PM

    Beautiful!! But tell me more about your jar. I have an unhealthy obsession with glass jars.

    • Reply Ashlae 4 February 2014 at 2:45 PM

      Hi Jaime –

      ME TOO. It’s a recycled Crofter’s jam jar!

  • Reply Loretta 4 February 2014 at 2:48 PM

    Gorgeous! Gotta love that rich golden color!

  • Reply Alexis 4 February 2014 at 3:30 PM

    I’ve been curious about that almond milk for weeks but haven’t bought it because it costs a bit more than Whole Foods brand. Now that I know you give it the thumbs up, I’ll be grabbing a bottle or two on my grocery haul later this week. Hopefully some brown rice syrup, too :-) The caramel looks delicious.

  • Reply alexandra 4 February 2014 at 3:49 PM

    Oh, I am SO very excited about this recipe. Thank you so much for sharing!

  • Reply Kathryn 6 February 2014 at 3:39 AM

    Oh look at you with all of your caramel-amazingness! I want to slather this on everything.

  • Reply Oh, Ladycakes: Califia Almondmilk Caramel Sauce | Califia Farms 6 February 2014 at 12:02 PM

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  • Reply Corinne 6 February 2014 at 5:06 PM

    This is amazing. I tried two different caramel sauces when I was making girlscout cookies for my (mostly) vegan cannabis baking cookbook and the first one was downright dangerous. This looks much more simple and the texture looks amazing. Thanks for the share!

  • Reply Samina | The Cupcake Confession 7 February 2014 at 11:38 AM

    This looks incredible and so much healthier compared to the heavy cream caramel sauce! These will also make for cute gifting options! Delicious! :)

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  • Reply ATasteOfMadness 8 February 2014 at 5:56 PM

    I have always wanted to make my own caramel sauce. This looks divine!

  • Reply Raquel 9 February 2014 at 9:52 AM

    So I made this last night and, while it turned out okay, I feel like the instructions could have been a bit more precise. “Medium heat” is a bit ambiguous, because I’ve had stoves that are very hot at medium and some that are very cool at medium – which are we looking for? While cooking for 25 minutes, should it be simmering? boiling? not breaking the surface at all? Should we be stirring at all during the cook time?

    After the initial 25 minutes at medium where it was not simmering at all, it was still very very thin and not at all like caramel. So, I turned the heat up until it was boiling rather quickly and kept it from overflowing by stirring the bubbles down with a silicone spatula. After about 30 minutes of this it had thickened enough, but is still a bit thin for my liking. I think I’d cook it another 5-10 minutes or so to get it really thick. The taste, however, is amazing, and I will make this again. I think it would definitely work with any creamy almond milk.

    • Reply Ashlae 9 February 2014 at 11:14 AM

      Hi Raquel –

      Sorry for the confusion! Medium heat refers to the middle setting on your stove – mine is numbered from 1-9 so I put it at 5. At medium heat the caramel should boil and look like the bubbly photo posted above (I’ll add that to the instructions). The notes prior to the recipe state not to stir more than indicated in the recipe. After 25 minutes the caramel sauce is going to still be really thin, but will thicken considerably as it cools.

  • Reply Jessica 11 February 2014 at 8:44 AM

    Hi Ashlae,
    This sauce looks marvelous and easy too! I have yet to try your coconut variety but this is definitely calling my name… Is it possible to use agave nectar to replace the brown rice syrup? I think corn syrup and agave are pretty similar in qualities but I would appreciate you input. Thanks! :)

    • Reply Ashlae 11 February 2014 at 9:59 AM

      Hi Jessica –

      Unfortunately I don’t think agave nectar would be a good substitute for the brown rice syrup. However, you could omit the rice syrup and replace the sugar with 1/2 cup of agave and try that method out instead. You’ll probably have to cook it for about 10 minutes longer. If you give it a go, let me know how it turns out. :)

  • Reply Carole @CaroleBee FoodandPhoto 11 February 2014 at 12:38 PM

    Yummmmm!!! This looks amazing!! Unfortunately I don’t have this brand of almond milk near me. Would another brand be suitable?

    • Reply Ashlae 11 February 2014 at 12:46 PM

      Hi Carole –

      Absolutely! Enjoy.

  • Reply Jenny @ BAKE 19 February 2014 at 6:51 AM

    I’m a recent almond milk convert too, I can’t wait to try this recipe

  • Reply lyna 2 March 2014 at 2:18 PM

    not sure what happened! i tried this recipe except used pacific almond milk (unsweetened), lemon juice instead of cream of tartar, and used everything else like you had mentioned. made sure not to stir at all during the boiling process, i poured the caramel through a fine mesh sieve- i did use the spatula to press it through the sieve (is that the mistake)? as soon as it hit the glass jar i was trying to pour it into, the caramel was hard almost like candy. caramel fail!! :-(

    • Reply Ashlae 2 March 2014 at 2:43 PM

      Hi Lyna –

      What a bummer! But there’s a chance your stovetop may cook hotter than mine – if you try it again, try turning down the heat. Also, don’t press the caramel as you’re passing it through the sieve. It’ll catch any of the clumps/hard gunk that didn’t break up properly while cooking.

  • Reply Evelyn 16 March 2014 at 12:51 PM

    I was wondering what i can use instead of brown rice syrup?

    • Reply Ashlae 16 March 2014 at 12:52 PM

      Hi Evelyn –

      Corn syrup would work!

  • Reply Lauryn 27 April 2014 at 7:04 AM

    This looks amazing! I wonder if I could replace the brown and cane sugars with coconut sugar?
    Will try and let you know how it works out!

  • Reply Mandy 18 June 2014 at 7:20 PM

    This looks amazing. How long would you guess this would last in the fridge?

    • Reply Mandy 21 June 2014 at 8:38 AM

      Derp. I found my answer in the post :)

  • Reply Tegan 21 June 2014 at 8:37 AM

    Thank you for this! I really want to make and ship this as a gift to a caramel loving friend. Any idea on how to make this ‘shelf stable’? Thank you for your response.

    • Reply Ashlae 21 June 2014 at 9:09 AM

      Hi Tegan –

      I don’t have a clue. Sorry I can’t be of more help!

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  • Reply Mary 28 July 2014 at 9:49 AM

    It was going well for about 10 minutes, maybe more, and it smelled delicious, boiling on medium high and looking just like the photo. Then it smelled different and got darker and I realized it was burning. I removed it from the heat and tried pouring it through a sieve. Too thick. I poured it directly into the jar. Then what was left up the side of the pan turned rock hard. I used A LOT of hot water cleaning up the pan and utensils. Wonder what I did wrong. Well, I guess I’ll leave caramel-making to the professionals.

    • Reply Ashlae 30 July 2014 at 7:12 AM

      Hi Mary –

      Oh no! I’m sorry to hear that. It could be that, perhaps, your stove cooks at a higher temperature when set to medium-high. If you try it again, try sticking on medium. When the caramel coats the back of the spoon, it’s ready to be removed from the heat.

      I will also be remaking this to take the temperature of the caramel to let everyone know the maximum temperature the caramel can withstand.

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  • Reply Megan 17 August 2014 at 9:43 PM

    Just made this and it turned out really well! I used Pacific unsweetened organic almond milk and cooked it for about 26 minutes. I had my candy thermometer clipped to my pan since I was curious what the heat would be (since ‘true’ caramel is heated on high to between 320-340F). My sauce heated away for a while around 175 and gradually went up to about 225F.

    I did the spoon test with a wooden spoon around 25 min and the back was coated beautifully so I promptly removed it, ran through a seive (it goes through easily) and now it’s cooling. Tastes great, thanks!

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  • Reply Brenda 3 October 2014 at 5:51 PM

    I just made the sauce with regular almond milk and a tablespoon of pure maple syrup, all else as stated in recipe. I probably cooked it a little less time, watching it carefully. I have a jar of wonderful, dark, nicely thick caramel syrup. I plan on dressing plates with it tomorrow around some hot homemade chunky applesauce with a scoop of frozen non-dairy vanilla dessert – dessert for company tomorrow. Thank you!

    • Reply Ashlyn 15 October 2014 at 4:14 PM

      Maple syrup worked?! Sweet! Thanks so much for sharing, I subbed with corn syrup but clearly maple syrup would be preferred (:

  • Reply Brenda 3 October 2014 at 7:28 PM

    Just an update – it’s a very thick sauce after refrigerating. I think it would be fine to make caramel apples with this! I’m going to heat it tomorrow and add a bit more almond milk to make a drizzle sauce.

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  • Reply Kimberly 27 October 2014 at 8:34 PM

    Made this with Coconut Palm Sugar & Xylitol instead of the brown & white sugars & syrup. Mistakenly added a little too much cream of tartar but it turned out great… DELICIOUS!!! Thanks for the recipe!!

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  • Reply Meryl 20 March 2015 at 6:42 PM

    I’m really excited to try this! I’m working on making a recipe for Sticky Toffee pudding for someone who can’t have milk and this sounds like it will make the perfect topping so thanks muchly! I will let you know how it turns out!

    • Reply Meryl 21 March 2015 at 1:52 AM

      OMG, I just realized – what was I thinking, my husband is allergic to almonds! Do you think this would work with Cashew milk? Well I guess I’m going to try it and let you know;)

  • Reply Meryl 3 April 2015 at 6:49 PM

    Sigh – I didn’t think and I doubled the recipe. I’m at the 25 min mark of boiling but it still looks watery and thin. Not sure if I should let it go longer or not.

    • Reply Meryl 3 April 2015 at 11:32 PM

      Ok, the problem wasn’t the doubling it was the Flax milk – that just did NOT work. It never thickened at all and now that it’s in the fridge, there’s something separating out of it!

      The version I made with the cashew milk came out much better (although still much farther from a true caramel sauce than I had hoped.)

      Is there a reason why you don’t add a fat such as Earth’s Balance buttery sticks to “finish” the caramel like you would with a dairy version?

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  • Reply Rainbow 23 May 2015 at 10:12 AM

    I made the caramel sauce last night while making dinner [so I could keep an eye on it as it simmered]. It turned out great! I used Blue Diamond Almond-Coconut milk (plain, unsweetened) instead of Califia’s, Lyle’s Golden Cane Syrup in place of the brown rice syrup [I like the taste way better], and 1 Tablespoon goat butter [because why not?]. I simmered it for 50-60 minutes [put a little in the freezer every now and then and then so I could check the consistency–quality control tasting is crucial right? :)] and it turned out perfect.

    I am using it to make an Ice Cream Turtle Pie: Graham cracker crust, layer of caramel sauce, layer of praline almond milk ice cream, layer of hot fudge [used your hot fudge recipe with great success], another layer of the “ice cream,” and then pecans roasted with salt and goat butter on top. I can’t wait to have a slice tonight! I used to make this at a frozen custard shop I worked for in Wisconsin 25 years ago and it was so good.

  • Reply Angela 7 November 2015 at 11:08 PM

    I Googled dairy-free caramel recipes and pretty much every other recipe was coconut based, but I was looking for something a little less coconut-ty. Your website was the only one that Google had on the first page that wasn’t made with coconut milk, and I was so grateful after I adventured and tried this recipe. I made this caramel for a ward activity that we are doing tomorrow and I am blown away at how incredibly delicious this recipe is. It’s better than any other caramel I’ve ever tasted. I doubled the recipe and used all of the ingredients that you told me to use(yes, even those specific brands)… so worth it!!! We’ll be having caramel apples with several different types of caramels and dips. I’m excited to see everyone’s reactions when they taste this deliciousness and realize that it’s actually dairy-free caramel! I’m pretty sure this may be the only recipe I ever use again for any type of caramel dessert. And from reading other people’s responses, I may be looking into making other recipes from your website as well :-) Thank you for sharing this amazing caramel recipe.

  • Reply Kelly 10 April 2016 at 8:54 AM

    I had just ran out of my Califia almond milk, so I made the recipe using a can of coconut cream (I used a brand called Savoy, which I picked up at my local Asian market) and I only had dark brown sugar. I followed the recipe exactly as it shows here and 25 minutes was WAY too long. It tasted amazing but was so thick, I could barely stir it. I threw it out and remade everything and cooked it for about 18 minutes. Stirred in a teaspoon of vanilla and a pinch of salt after I took it off the stove. OMG. Heaven. Just wanted to let you know it works without having to refrigerate the can of coco milk ahead of time, or when you forget you’re all out of almond milk! :)

  • Reply Nan 9 July 2016 at 11:34 PM

    I made this sauce replacing the 1/2 c. brown sugar with 3/8 c. agave nectar + 1/2 t. blackstrap molasses + an extra 1/8 t. cream of tartar. Also substituted honey for the rice syrup. Cooked for 25 minutes + 2 extra minutes. I think the caramel sauce came out as it should, but is there something I can do to it to make it softer, like playdough consistency? As it is, it hardens to a crackly texture.

    • Reply Ashlae 10 July 2016 at 7:11 AM

      Hi Nan –

      Unfortunately I can’t be of help when so many of the components have been altered. Sorry!

  • Reply Vee 20 August 2017 at 6:39 PM

    Califia has come to Australia, so I made a batch of this yesterday and used it to fill some raised doughnuts. I ended up using coconut sugar because I was out of brown sugar and not interested in running back to the shops, and golden syrup instead of brown rice syrup. It was great, though next time I’ll be more faithful to the recipe (I missed the flavour of brown sugar, and golden syrup *does* leave behind a detectable flavour that interferes a bit with the caramel) and I’ll probably add a good pinch of salt at the end. I cooked it for a little less time than you called for, it thickened quite fast for me – possibly because of my substitutions, who knows. I make coconut caramel all the time and am so used to the taste that I almost didn’t remember that caramel doesn’t have to taste like coconut.

  • Reply Nina 21 August 2017 at 9:26 AM

    Hi, greetings from the UK.

    Thank you for a caramel recipe that does not contain butter or coconut! Hurrah!

    Excuse my ignorance re the cane sugar, here in the UK our brown sugar states on the bag that it is cane sugar so what is the difference between brown sugar and cane sugar? The different sugars that are available to me here are Muscavado sugar, light soft brown sugar, soft dark brown sugar, molasses sugar and Demerara sugar. What do you recommend I try the recipe with?

    I hope you find the time to answer as I want to make the sauce this weekend,

    Many thanks.

    • Reply Ashlae 23 August 2017 at 6:45 AM

      Hi Nina –

      You can make the sauce with whatever sugar you want! The darker the sugar, the darker your caramel will be.

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