How to Make Caramel Without Cream

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Caramel sauce made with heavy cream has a thick consistency and a rich, buttery taste. If you're out of cream or need a substitute, however, you can still make caramel at home. Lower-fat dairy substitutes can work in place of heavy cream, and so can vegan products, such as coconut milk or coconut cream.

Use a Dairy Substitute

In a traditional caramel recipe, replace the heavy cream with the same amount of half and half or milk. Liquids with the highest fat contents will produce a caramel that tastes closest to the version made with heavy cream, and they may also make a thicker caramel.

Make Vegan Caramel

You can also make a caramel sauce that is suitable for people who are vegan or lactose intolerant. For a version that tastes closest to one made with heavy cream, substitute heavy cream with an equal amount of coconut cream. The thick cream makes a sauce heavy enough to spoon out, even when warm.

If you don't mind a thinner sauce, use light coconut milk, almond milk or soy milk in place of heavy cream.

Use Only Sugar

Sugar is the only ingredient required to make caramel; heavy cream is only added to produce a thicker, creamier sauce that will spread nicely. To make caramel with only sugar, heat the sugar in a heavy-bottomed saucepan over low heat. Prevent burning by adding a small amount of water. Stir constantly until the sugar turns an amber color, which will further darken when you take the caramel off the heat and let it cool.

Tip

  • Caramel sauce made with only sugar will become brittle when it's cool. To prevent this from happening, immediately pour the liquid caramel into a heatproof container, and re-warm the caramel when you need to use it.

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