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Caramel sauce

snurbcooks Jun 10, 2013 10:07 AM

Hi....help! I have been successfully making caramel sauce for over a year with no issues but suddenly now every time I make it, it curdles and becomes lumpy, for lack of a better word.

It tastes fine but the texture is awful.

Anyone have any ideas why this would just start without me having changed one thing about the way I make it?

Much appreciated!

  1. tim irvine Jun 11, 2013 04:41 PM

    FWIW I use about a cup to a cup and a half of sugar, heat until it is clear and just beginning to turn brown, turn down the heat, and, all the while stirring with a small silicone spatula, add four or five pats of cold butter, a glug of store brand heavy cream, taken out of the fridge as I start melting the sugar, and a little over a teaspoon of salt. So far no problems other than my addiction.

    1. s
      snurbcooks Jun 10, 2013 05:17 PM

      Thank you to everyone who gave me tips. I appreciate it. Going to try a few different suggestions and see what I can figure out.

      Thanks again!

      2 Replies
      1. re: snurbcooks
        cleopatra999 Jun 10, 2013 05:20 PM

        not a suggestion but just a recommendation of another recipe if you need one more choice.


        1. re: cleopatra999
          snurbcooks Jun 10, 2013 05:24 PM

          Thank you!

      2. chefj Jun 10, 2013 04:06 PM

        There must have been a change in your Cream. It is the only variable here.

        5 Replies
        1. re: chefj
          snurbcooks Jun 10, 2013 05:15 PM

          You're right, it is the only variable. I didn't change brands but maybe something changed in the manufacturing process. I'm stumped. I guess I'll have to try all the different ideas given here until I get it back to normal.

          Thank you for responding!

          1. re: snurbcooks
            jeanmarieok Jun 11, 2013 09:28 AM

            Probably the ultra-pasteurization process.

            1. re: jeanmarieok
              cleopatra999 Jun 11, 2013 09:36 AM

              I noticed that last time I went to the US. Really tough to find milk, especially Organic that was not ultra pasteurized. When/why did that start? Just to increase shelf life? We don't do that up here in Canada.

              1. re: cleopatra999
                snurbcooks Jun 11, 2013 10:27 AM

                I live in Canada too!

                1. re: snurbcooks
                  cleopatra999 Jun 11, 2013 11:52 AM

                  Well we can't blame ultrapastuerization then.

        2. o
          onrushpam Jun 10, 2013 03:20 PM

          Here's what I use and it always works. I think the Golden Syrup makes it a bit more forgiving. I must say, it usually takes longer than stated to get the right consistency. I go slow.

          1 cup packed light brown sugar
          1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter
          1 1/2 cups heavy cream
          1/3 cup Lyles golden syrup

          Melt the brown sugar and butter in a heavy-bottomed large saucepan over medium heat, stirring often to help dissolve the sugar. Whisk in the cream and syrup and bring to a boil, taking care that the mixture does not boil over. Cook uncovered, whisking often, until the sauce is glossy, smooth, and reduced by about one-third, about 8 minutes.

          1 Reply
          1. re: onrushpam
            snurbcooks Jun 10, 2013 05:13 PM

            Thank you. I try to keep it a caramel rather than a butterscotch but maybe I will try this.

          2. g
            gfr1111 Jun 10, 2013 02:50 PM

            My guess is that it is the increasing humidity with which you have to deal in summer. So, have you made it in the summer before? If so, maybe I am wrong, but sugar is notoriously hydroscopic and the additional moisture can throw off a recipe.

            The other thing that I would look at is the age of the sweetened, condensed milk that you are using. Something happens to that stuff in the can when it gets old.

            1 Reply
            1. re: gfr1111
              chefj Jun 10, 2013 04:05 PM

              I think you mean Hygroscopic.
              By the time the Sugar is caramelizing there is no Water.
              The OP is using Heavy Cream not SCM.

            2. i
              INDIANRIVERFL Jun 10, 2013 01:27 PM

              Since you have not changed anything, could it be the age or temp of your dairy product?

              Guessing here.

              5 Replies
              1. re: INDIANRIVERFL
                snurbcooks Jun 10, 2013 01:38 PM

                do you think? too hot maybe? I do warm it a bit. too cold? should i warm it more?

                i never changed the way i did it which is sooooo frustrating!

                1. re: snurbcooks
                  biondanonima Jun 10, 2013 01:43 PM

                  How do you make it? Cook the sugar and water together until you get the color you want and then pour in the cream? If you use cold cream it will cause the sauce to seize, of course, but that's easily remedied by heating and stirring until smooth.

                  1. re: biondanonima
                    snurbcooks Jun 10, 2013 01:48 PM

                    Yes, I cook sugar and water until amber then add warmed cream. No seizing, just curdling.

                    1. re: snurbcooks
                      biondanonima Jun 10, 2013 02:40 PM

                      Maybe try leaving the cream cold and see if that help. I've never had a problem with cold cream, although as I mentioned, the sauce does seize a bit until it comes back up to temperature.

                      1. re: biondanonima
                        snurbcooks Jun 10, 2013 05:12 PM

                        I will try that. Thank you!

              2. babette feasts Jun 10, 2013 01:23 PM

                If it's more curdled like cottage cheese I would think it's the cream. Are you using a different brand or a lower fat cream?

                If it's more gritty, I'd look at the sugar. Do you use cane sugar? I know some people swear beet sugar doesn't caramelize as well. Humidity is always a suspect when sugar is involved, any changes there?

                I use equal parts by weight cane sugar and heavy (40% fat) cream - caramelize the sugar wet, add warmed cream and a little salt and vanilla. It always comes out great for me. Try it and see if you still have issues.

                3 Replies
                1. re: babette feasts
                  snurbcooks Jun 10, 2013 01:37 PM

                  it's like cottage cheese but the curds are smaller. not gritty. i have had that issue (gritty) and have figured that one out.

                  just regular granulated sugar

                  no change in the cream or brand

                  1. re: snurbcooks
                    babette feasts Jun 10, 2013 04:10 PM

                    At what point does it start to curdle? As soon as you add the cream? Or after standing?

                    1. re: babette feasts
                      snurbcooks Jun 10, 2013 05:12 PM

                      as soon as the bubbles calm down a bit after adding the cream

                2. biondanonima Jun 10, 2013 12:53 PM

                  What's the recipe?

                  2 Replies
                  1. re: biondanonima
                    snurbcooks Jun 10, 2013 01:36 PM

                    1 cup sugar
                    2 cups water
                    1 cup cream ( I warm it slightly)
                    2 tbls butter

                    1. re: snurbcooks
                      jeanmarieok Jun 11, 2013 09:25 AM

                      It may help to add a tblspoon of corn syrup. I've had luck with corn syrup smoothing my caramels out.

                  2. k
                    kseiverd Jun 10, 2013 12:22 PM

                    Not exactly "caramel sauce" but I make homemade dulche de leche... IN the UNOPENED can. Can of sweetened, condensed milk (sans label) in pot big enough to cover with water. Bring to simmer and turn down really low for at least 2 hours... making sure you add more water if it gets low. At 2 hours it's pourable and lightly tan. The longer it cooks, the darker and stiffer it gets. Let can cool COMPLETELY before opening... unless ya wanna get seriously burned! Have had it last a LONG time (months) in fridge. One time got a little grainy, but came back after a whle in simmering water.... I store it in a mason jar. Tried it with NON-FAT and frankly couldn't tell the difference.

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: kseiverd
                      snurbcooks Jun 10, 2013 12:33 PM

                      Hi Kseiverd...thank you for your response. I do know how to make dulce de leche but it's my caramel sauce I am having issues with. I also know how to make it and have been making it for my business for the past year with no issues. This curdling thing is new and I can't figure out what is happening or why. Have not changed one thing about how I make it. It's very irritating and I do not want to serve lumpy caramel to my customers!

                      Thanks for your response!

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