What Is Caramel Frosting?

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  • Written By: M.C. Huguelet
  • Edited By: Heather Bailey
  • Last Modified Date: 22 May 2019
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Caramel frosting is a rich, sweet icing that is generally golden brown in color and heavy in consistency and tastes much like caramel candies. It can be used to top cakes, brownies, and other desserts. Caramel frosting can be purchased in many stores, and can be made at home using a combination of butter, sugar, cream, and various flavorings. Some cooks opt to adapt the taste or texture of traditional caramel frosting through the addition of seasonings, flavor extracts, or dairy products such as cream cheese.

In most cases, caramel frosting is quite sweet and is similar in taste to caramel chews. The reason that this frosting tastes like caramel candy is that the production of both involves caramelizing sugar, or heating it until its chemical properties change. This type of frosting is usually a golden brown hue. It is often extremely dense in consistency and tends to be very rich. Consequently, many find that only a small quantity of the frosting is necessary when icing desserts.

Theoretically, caramel frosting can be used in any recipe that calls for frosting. Many find that its flavor pairs best with chocolate, nuts, or “warm” spices like cinnamon and nutmeg. Thus, it is often used to top desserts like chocolate cupcakes, walnut brownies, and spice cake.


It is possible to purchase caramel frosting in many specialty food stores, and it can even be found in the baking aisle of some supermarkets. With a bit of effort, home cooks can also prepare the frosting themselves. Making this type of frosting usually involves heating white or brown sugar and water until it begins to caramelize, and then adding butter and cream or half and half. Sometimes, vanilla extract is also added at this stage to enhance the frosting’s flavor. Once this mixture has cooled, it is combined with confectioners’ sugar, which helps make it spreadable, and whipped until all ingredients are fully incorporated.

Some bakers produce variations on caramel frosting by adding ingredients and seasonings to a traditional frosting recipe. For instance, some add sea salt to create salted caramel icing, while others incorporate orange peel or orange blossom extract to give the frosting an undertone of orange flavor. Adding cream cheese to a caramel frosting recipe can result in an icing that is very smooth, with a sweet yet slightly tangy taste and a pale golden color.



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