This is hands down the best homemade caramel filling for cupcakes, cakes, tartlets, brownies, pies, or any other desserts. It is sticky, buttery, silky without turning hard, and very well balanced in sweetness due to the glucose syrup added besides sugar. Did you know that caramel is made in 5 minutes using only 4 simple ingredients? It is super easy and quick, even for beginners!
Why this is the best recipe
- It is easy & quick – Making homemade caramel filling for your cakes or cupcakes takes only a few minutes and 4 ingredients. It is one of the baking basics worth mastering as a homemaker and almost too easy not to try!
- It is super delicious with the most perfect creamy texture – Have you ever had experience making caramel that turned rock hard? Never again! What makes this caramel recipe the best is the glucose syrup used in the recipe (besides sugar) that will guarantee the most perfect texture! Glucose syrup also makes the caramel filling less sweet, in fact, very well balanced in sweetness
- No special equipment is needed – All you need is a saucepan, no thermometer is needed to make this caramel filling recipe
- It is an honest, detailed tutorial – While this recipe might look long, all the information I have written here, every tip and trick will help you achieve the perfect results without any issues on the way. Remember, baking is science, and every little detail written here is to help YOU!
- Granulated sugar: Use white granulated sugar, nothing fancy. If you want to learn about the different types of sugar and how to use them in baking, please read my article in here
- Glucose syrup: This is a professional caramel filling recipe that is made with glucose syrup, what it does is, make the caramel softer, creamier, it won´t harden as much, and is also easier to prepare because it prevents sugar crystallizing. I suggest you try purchasing glucose syrup for the best result, however, if you cannot access it, I will have a traditional caramel recipe at the end of this post, that is made of sugar, butter, and cream only
- Butter: Use always unsalted as you want to be in control of the quantity of the salt. I am using 82% fat content butter in all my recipes. It is very important that butter needs to be at room temperature meaning soft. If the butter is too cold, it won't incorporate properly into the caramel sauce, in the meantime, if butter is melted, again, won´t emulsify properly
- Heavy cream: Also known as whipping cream, has a fat content between 36% and 40%, the one I am using is 36%. Avoid substitutes like vegetable-based “whipping cream”
Exact ingredient quantities can be found in the RECIPE CARD, at the bottom of this page!
5 Expert baking tips
1. What is glucose syrup
Glucose syrup is typically made from the hydrolysis of starch, eg. cornstarch, and it is widely used by pastry chefs when making ice cream or candy. It is less sweet than sugar and has some practical advantages e.g. supports a softer and moister texture in desserts and does not crystallize when cooked eg. in this caramel recipe.
I use glucose syrup e.g. for mirror glaze, marshmallow, or even for sweetening drinks. Some sources refer to corn syrup as glucose syrup which is briefly correct only. Although corn syrup is a glucose syrup, glucose syrup is not always corn syrup as glucose syrup can be made of other than corn. They can be interchanged however in most of the recipes.
2. How to melt sugar
The good news is that you won't need a thermometer to melt the sugar and make this caramel recipe, instead, you will apply some eyeballing* method to judge the color of the caramel. First and foremost choose the size of the pan taking into consideration that this is a "one bowl" recipe so that all the ingredients will have to fit in and it will crazy bubble at some point, so it is better to choose a big enough saucepan.
There are two different methods to melt sugar for caramel; 1. Wet caramel is when first sugar is dissolved in a little water and then caramelized 2. Dry caramel is when sugar is melted and caramelized on its own. In this recipe, I am sharing with you how to make dry caramel!
While melting sugar please make sure to watch it all the time and definitely do not walk away! As the sugar melts, it darkens, developing complex aromas and flavors that taste less sweet than sugar itself and become super delicious, liquid gold as some refer to it!
No thermometer is needed to make this caramel filling recipe, however, if you decide to use one, please see below the different sugar stages. What we are looking for is the last, caramel stage
- Small thread 104-105C / 219-221F
- Pearl 107C / 225F
- Soft ball 115C / 239F
- Firm ball 117C / 243F
- Hard ball 120-121C / 248-250F
- Soft crack 130-135C / 266-275F
- Hard crack 140-145C / 284-293F
- Light caramel 160C / 320F
- Caramel 180C / 356F
*Eyeballing statistics is the process of looking at a set of data and making estimates of statistical values without carrying out statistical calculations.
3. Step-by-step process of homemade caramel filling
Making homemade caramel literally takes about 5 minutes (depending on your stove and saucepan).
- Melt the sugar and glucose syrup in a large saucepan over medium-high heat. It is ok to stir the mixture a few times with a heatproof rubber spatula but no need to stir it while heating
- In the meantime, heat cream until simmering. Do not boil the cream (as that would result in losing some of its volume), only simmering
- Be careful not to burn the caramel, once the sugar starts to turn into golden brown, adjust the stove to medium heat
- Once caramel achieved the right temperature/color, immediately pour over the hot cream and keep whisking with a hand whisk or rubber spatula. The mixture will rapidly bubble, do not worry, it is normal
- Cook the caramel for a further 1-2 more minutes, withing this time frame the mixture should bubble less and thicken slightly, but no need to cook it longer
- Remove caramel from the stove and pour it into a large enough bowl so it can cool as quickly as possible. You can run the caramel through a sieve, if in doubt, but with the glucose syrup added, you should not have sugar bits in the mixture
- Let caramel cool to about 40C / 104F and mix in butter in 3 steps stirring vigorously between each addition. Please note that the butter won´t get incorporated if 1. butter is too cold 2. caramel is too warm 3. you add too much butter at once. It is fine to use a hand whisk, rubber spatula, or hand blender
- Once butter is incorporated, move caramel into a jar or container and use it according to the recipe
Tip: You can turn this caramel filling into salted caramel filling by adding 1-2 teaspoons of good quality sea salt to the mixture at step 5
4. How to store
You can store the caramel filling in an airtight container for 1-2 weeks in the fridge.
Please note that since this caramel filling is made with glucose syrup, you will get a super smooth, silky texture caramel that does not harden as much as caramel sauce without glucose syrup, yet this will also further set in the fridge. As a cake or cupcake filling, I suggest using it at room temperature.
5. How to make caramel without glucose syrup
I have another version of the caramel recipe that is absolutely delicious, however, due to the lack of glucose syrup, it hardens more than the glucose syrup version. If you are unable to purchase glucose syrup but still want to make caramel at home, feel free to use the recipe below
- 215 g Granulated sugar
- 85 g Unsalted butter
- 125 g Heavy Cream
- Melt the sugar in a large saucepan over medium-high heat. Do not stir, as it can encourage sugar crystalizing
- When sugar fully dissolved and turns into golden brown in color, add in soft, room temperature butter in 3 steps while whisking vigorously. It will bubble and it´s normal, be careful. If butter starts to separate just keep whisking
- Once butter fully incorporated, slowly pour warm heavy cream into the mixture and boil for a minute. It will bubble and rise slightly but keep whisking. After about a minute your caramel is done
Recipes using caramel sauce
Chocolate caramel cupcake - Moist and fluffy chocolate cupcakes filled with homemade caramel sauce and decorated with my signature mascarpone caramel light frosting
Chocolate caramel tart - It just tastes phenomenal as the buttery caramel with slight salty kick meets the silky chocolate ganache in delicious buttery chocolate sweet shortcrust pastry.
Caramel Banana tart - Sweet shortcrust pastry filled caramelized banana and caramel sauce is the ultimate fancy mini tartlet you have to try
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Homemade caramel filling for cupcakes and cakes (VIDEO)
US customary cup measurement is an indicative figure only. Measure the ingredients with a digital scale by weight (gram). Baking is art but also science which requires precision and accuracy.
- First and foremost, be careful throughout the process not to burn yourself
- Melt the sugar and glucose syrup in a large saucepan over medium-high heat
- Heat cream until simmering
- Once the sugar starts to turn into golden brown, adjust the stove to medium heat
- When caramel achieved the right temperature (160-180C / 320-356F) or color (golden brown), immediately pour over the hot cream and keep whisking with a hand whisk or rubber spatula
- Cook the caramel for a further 1-2 more minutes
- Remove caramel from the stove and pour it into a large enough bowl so it can cool as quickly as possible
- Let caramel cool to about 40C / 104F then mix in butter in 3 steps stirring vigorously between each addition
- Store the caramel in the fridge for about a week. Please note that the caramel texture turn into more solid int the fridge, but it won´t get rock hard to due the glucose syrup added