Rethinking Caramel Sauce: A Healthier Version of a Flavorful Topping

caramel sauce

Housemade caramel sauce drizzled over apple slices offers a no-fuss, healthful, seasonal dessert. My caramel sauce satisfies your desire for sweet without the addition of refined white sugar or high fructose corn syrup.

Increased awareness about which foods work with your body will help you design a balanced eating plan. Develop trust in your food choices, including dessert.

I appreciate what cookbook writer Margaret Rudkin (developer of the Pepperidge Farm Company) who says, “Few things are more rewarding to a woman than that happy feeling she has when she knows that the food she has prepared with love and interest brings pleasure to her family.

Mrs. Rudkin’s Pepperidge Farm started from the comfort of her kitchen. Her delight for cooking developed from an intense interest in the study of nutrition for children. Like Margaret Rudkin, I enjoy preparing dishes for my family using wholesome ingredients.

Remember, one of the first steps in transforming your relationship with food is to eat food as close to nature as possible.

caramel sauce

The Caramel Sauce

The secret to excellent caramel sauce is in heating the sugar to the right temperature. Heating sugar to a high temperature allows the molecules to break apart and generate new flavors, colors, and densities.

I can make this sauce in advance and leave at room temperature. If the sauce is too thick, reheat on the stovetop (I don’t use a microwave. To continue the conversation about this, feel free to email or reach out on Instagram).

What makes this caramel sauce recipe different than store-bought caramel sauce? For this recipe, I use Sucanat, a dark evaporated cane sugar. Sue Becker, the author of  The Essential Home-Ground Flour Book, explains, “it is made by heating the juice extracted from raw sugar cane, reducing it to a rich, dark syrup. While it is heating, the syrup is hand-paddled to dry it, creating granules.”

For my dairy-free friends, you will notice that I included a dairy-free option for this recipe. You probably remember I’ve mentioned creme-fraiche before in my other recipes. It is a slightly sweet, thick European version of sour cream. Creme-fraiche is another healthier dairy option.

Serves 6

No-FUSS Caramel Sauce (dairy-free option included)
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  • 1 1/2 cups of sucanat
  • 1 1/4 cups of creme fraiche, heavy cream, or coconut cream (dairy-free option)
  • 1/2 teaspoon of pure vanilla extract


  1. Mix 1/3 cup of water and the sucanat in a medium stainless steel sauce pan. On low heat, allow the sugar to dissolve, avoid stirring.
  2. Once the sugar dissolves, increase the heat to medium until the sugar mixture comes to a boil. If you have a candy thermometer, the mixture should read 350 degrees. To avoid burning the mixture, swirl the mixture slightly off the heat. Continue this process for 5 minutes.
  3. As the mixture cooks, you will see a distinct change in color to a lighter brown. Turn off heat.
  4. Add the cream and the vanilla to the mixture.
  5. When you add the cream and vanilla, the mixture will hiss and possibly splatter, so be careful. The mixture will thicken slightly.
  6. Turn heat to a simmer. Stirring constantly until the mixture is smooth and glossy. Simmer for 3 minutes.
  7. Remove from heat and allow to cool for on the stove for a few minutes.
  8. Then completely remove from the stove and allow caramel to cool for up to 4 hours.


You will notice that I provide 3 options for the dairy in this recipe. I prefer using creme fraiche, a slightly sweet, thick European version of sour cream.

Coconut cream is the dairy-free option. Make sure that you buy the cream and not the milk.

Sucanat is a healthier replacement for refined sugar. You can find Sucanat on Amazon and in most supermarkets. It is a darker evaporated sugar cane product.

One final thought, recreate, reinvent, rethink how you can alter desserts to make them healthier.

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