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Feb 2, 2009 11:21 AM

dairy free caramel glaze recipes??

I just made a beautiful apple cake and would like to dress it up with a caramel glaze. Does anyone have a dairy free carmel glaze recipe? I've tried several dairy recipes with subbed ingredients, but the texture comes out very sandy. I haven't found anything simple from my google searches. Suggestions most appreciated!!

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  1. Ooh, I love apple cake! I made a caramel glaze recently that used just water and sugar. The process is detailed here:

    Mine didn't come out sandy at all but after making it I read that stirring it can create a sandy texture. Next time I don't think I would stir as frequently to avoid the possibility of this happening.

    7 Replies
    1. re: Phoo_d

      Thanks, Phoo-D. Your pictures are great, and so are your step by step instructions. What a gorgeous cake, and I bet it tastes just as good as it looks! I'm a little nervous about making your caramel sauce, though, especially after reading what could happen once you add the water. Maybe I'll try if I'm feeling brave. I like the simplicity of the ingredients, my kind of recipe. I appreciate your sharing.

      1. re: addicted2cake

        Yeah, making the sauce definitely required that I muster up all my kitchen bravery! It really wasn't too scary once all was said and done, though I did have tiny little hard caramel droplets all over my counter, stove, floor...they cleaned up with just a little elbow grease - nothing too terrible. I would absolutely recommend using a deeper pan with taller sides to help keep things under control and in the pan. My pan was too shallow for the task.

      2. re: Phoo_d

        This is likely a bit quibbly, and I haven't done any research to see if I'm wrong, but I'm sure people will point it out if I am... :)

        I was under the impression that sugar and water boiled to a brown/doneness is basically a candy. For something to be called a "real" caramel, I thought it -had- to have some sort of dairy in it. :)

        1. re: Morganna

          I totally get quibbly, especially from years of proofreading chef's menus. I usually turn to the Food Lover's Companion as my resource. According to it, "caramel" is caramelized sugar - which, interestingly, it says can be used to flavor soups, sauces and stocks. It defines a "soft caramel" as including milk, cream, butter and/or corn syrup.

          1. re: cyberroo

            Ah HAH! Thanks for saving me having to look it up! :)

        2. re: Phoo_d

          boy is your cake beautiful; I would rather not use yogurt. do you have any other suggestions. thanks

          1. re: foufou

            Thanks - someone else asked this question too and I think that sour cream would substitute well. You could try whole milk but I'm not sure what the correct proportions would be to maintain the right moisture content in the cake.

        3. I haven't made it, but one of my cookbooks has a recipe for an apple caramel sauce, which basically replaces the cream with apple sauce. So you could just caramelize the sugar, then add an equal quantity of apple juice (if you start with 1cup sugar, add 1 cup juice) or maybe a bit more if you want it runny.

          I'm not sure if the sandy texture you're referring to is from the sugar crystalizing, or if you're using another kind of caramel (say, brown sugar and juice). If you aren't familiar with caramelizing sugar, it's pretty simple. Add sugar and enough water to moisten (say, 3T to one cup of sugar) in a saucepan, put over medium heat and heat until the sugar is dissolved. Personally, I like to put a lid on it for this part - the condensation helps keep it from crystalizing. After 3-5 minutes, remove the lid, turn up the heat, and let cook until it's a pretty dark amber. Don't stir the pan, but you can swirl the liquid around if it's not caramelizing evenly. Once the color is good, remove from the heat, and use a potholder the shield your hand while you add the juice. It'll bubble and steam like mad, so be careful. Then whisk/stir it all together until it's combined.

          8 Replies
          1. re: cyberroo

            I used brown sugar, margarine, a little soy milk and stirred continuously for several minutes. I let mixture simmer for one minute, (no stirring) then slightly cool. The caramel had a nice flavor, but was so gritty I didn't put it on my cake. I guess I'm NOT familiar with carmelizing sugar. Are you using white or brown sugar? Does it make a difference? I could use white sugar if you think I'll have better luck. I'll be sure to use a pot that is deep enough when carmelizing sugar so that it doesn't get all over. Thank you very much for replying cyberoo and for getting back to me Phoo-D. I appreciate the input!

            1. re: cyberroo

              One other thing: I also added 3/4 cup confectioners sugar after mixture had simmered one minute. Maybe that's why it was so gritty??? Recipe I used was: 1/2 cup brown sugar, 1/3 cup margarine, 4-5 tsps. soy milk, stir till all is dissolved (medium heat). This took several minutes. Let mixture simmer for 1 minute, then add confectioner's sugar stirring till smooth. Slighly cool before spooning onto cake. Maybe this isn't a very good recipe for carmel sauce?? Of course, the original recipe called for butter and cream. I imagine it works better with the real thing.

              1. re: addicted2cake

                For future reference, a really good and I think foolproof recipe for caramel is the master recipe in The Secrets of Baking by Sherry Yard (page 50). Then she has a variant on that called Apple Caramel Glaze which uses some apple juice and has no dairy and seems to be just what you are looking for.

                To prevent the grittiness, a lot of recipes call for brushing down the sides of the pan with a moist brush and then NOT stirring after a certain point. Here is a link that talks about that:


                See the section titled "How to Make Caramel which talks about preventing the grittiness.

                1. re: karykat

                  WOW!! This link is great! I just printed it out and will follow the steps for my next apple cake. Cyberoo also mentions an apple carmel sauce in one of her cookbooks. Maybe it's the same one? I'll check out Sherry Yard's book. Thank you so much for your help!

                2. re: addicted2cake

                  Ok, you were making, essentially, a brown sugar sauce which isn't really a caramel. Was it gritty before you added the powdered sugar? I'd think you could dissolve the brown sugar in the margarine/soy milk without a problem - I've use a not non-dairy version for bread pudding, and it's not silky smooth, but not gritty. The powdered sugar is throwing me off, though - it seems like it would make it, well, the texture of sand unless there was a lot of liquid. You could do it up to the powdered sugar step, and just add powdered sugar in small batches until the texture is where you want it.

                  A proper caramel sauce is made by melting white sugar and heating it until it turns into caramel. It's a little more complicated than the sauce you're making, but certainly doable. Just be very very careful - melted sugar will really burn you if you get it on your skin.

                  1. re: cyberroo

                    Yes, it was a little gritty before I added the confectioner's sugar. Once the powdered sugar was added, then it became very, very sandy upon cooling. I didn't add any additional liquid. I could have added less 10x, but I thought if I kept stirring, all would be fine. Guess not!! I think I'll skip this part of the recipe if I'm looking to make a brown sugar sauce. So that's what it's called, not caramel sauce. OK. Makes sense. Sounds like carmelized sugar is not difficult to make, I just need to be very careful. I can do this. Thank you for your help with my glaze. I was so disappointed not to have done it correctly, but powdered sugar on top of cake was fine this time around.

                    1. re: addicted2cake

                      When you make caramel, sometimes you have to heat it and heat it and heat it and then suddenly it is ready and can go to quickly.

                      I've had good luck with the Yard recipe in her Secrets book. It seems pretty foolproof. One tip she had (or maybe it was someone else) is that it's good to use a pan that is light colored, not dark. That way you can see the color of the caramel as it forms so you can take it off the flame at the right time (if you're not using a thermometer.)