Nothing dresses up a snack plate quite like caramel sauce — especially when it’s homemade. If the thought of making homemade caramel for your kids seems intimidating, here’s a secret: The best caramel sauces incorporate sweetened condensed milk. In fact, this is the simple ingredient that turns making caramel into a project that’s basically foolproof.
Because sweetened condensed milk properly protects the warming sauce from seizing into a hard and crunchy caramel, it makes all the difference in creating a gooey, pourable mixture that’s creamy enough to dollop on sliced fruit or drizzle on ice cream.
With that in mind, here’s a step-by-step guide to making your sweet and sticky caramel sauce to serve with apples, crackers, cookies, fruit, popcorn, or whatever you like.
In addition to the sweetened condensed milk, you’ll only need five or six other ingredients to create caramel sauce at home:
- 7 tablespoons salted butter
- ¾ cup light corn syrup
- 2 cups granulated sugar
- ½ cup sweetened condensed milk
- 1 ¼ cup whipping cream
- (Optional) ½ teaspoon salt (or to taste)
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
How to Make the Sauce
To make a creamy, caramelly, sweet, and salted sauce, melt and stir some of the ingredients until they reach the perfect temperature and thickness. From there, you’ll mix cream (if you lightly warm the cream in the microwave ahead of time, it will incorporate better) and salt, heat again, and add vanilla as the mixture cools.
Follow these steps:
- In a medium-sized saucepan over medium heat, melt butter.
- Stir corn syrup, sugar, and sweetened condensed milk.
- Continue stirring until the mixture becomes golden-brown.
- Remove pan from heat, stir in whipping cream and, if desired, salt.
- Return pan to medium-high heat, and stir the mixture constantly until it bubbles. (Constant stirring prevents the mixture from scorching; if the mixture scorches, don’t scrape the bottom of the pan, but rather keep stirring everything above the scalded section.)
- Let mixture bubble, continue stirring for five minutes or until caramel thickens to a sauce-like consistency.
- Remove pan from heat. Stir in vanilla.
Immediately after following these steps, you’ll have a thin caramel sauce perfect for using on ice cream or pouring into a hot beverage to sweeten it. To thicken it into a more fondue-like consistency, let it cool for about 30 minutes.
How to Enjoy Caramel Sauce With Kids
The great thing about sauces and spreads at snack time is they make eating a little more game-like for little ones. Serving your kids a platter of small bites and individual bowls of gooey caramel sauce offers them an activity and a snack, all in one.
Some ideas for filling that snack platter include:
- Sliced apples
- Pita chips
Alternatively, swirl caramel sauce in yogurt bowls, use it to top pancakes/waffles, or mix it into brownie or cake batter. Instead of frosting cupcakes, top them with caramel sauce. To take a favorite apple pie or cobbler up a notch, sneak a little caramel sauce inside the mix. Caramel sauce works in homemade lattes or drizzled into coffee. There’s also nothing wrong with enjoying
a big spoonful as it is.
When using the foolproof trick of mixing sweetened condensed milk into your homemade caramel mixture, it’s easy to create a thick and scoopable caramel sauce you and your kids will love. Sweeten snack time for everyone by using the recipe and ideas above!
Author bio: Samantha Kowalczyk is Director of Product Development and Key Accounts for Mrs Prindables. She leads a team responsible for the creation of new product concepts, such as gourmet caramel apples, gifts, and confections. Kowalczyk joined Mrs Prindables in 2013 after completing her education in marketing. Her dedication to Mrs Prindables enabled her to progress to her current role.