Maple Caramel Sauce is easy to make (20 minutes!), and delicious. All you need is maple syrup, butter, cream, and vanilla extract!
While I SHOULD be focused on the holiday season coming up (and to be fair, I am - see all the pumpkin recipes I’ve posted lately!)...
It’s also “Maple Syrup Season Part Deux”.
See, “maple syrup season” is like... February and March, IMHO.
As a kid, it was learning about tapping maple trees in the early spring, and pouring hot maple syrup over snow at Festival du Voyageur.
Then summer hits, and maple goes to the wayside a little bit.
Not only is its robust flavour great for fall by itself, it also pairs really well with other fall flavours. Pumpkins, warming spices, apples - all are made better with maple.
Yes, I am a fangirl. Yes, I’ve been known to do shots of maple syrup, though mostly when I was still living in the USA!
Anyway, enough of that.
Last night, I posted my recipe for Maple Caramel Apples, a fun twist on the classic.
Seems like a good time to post a somewhat related recipe - maple caramel sauce!
Uses for Maple Caramel
While I’m happy to eat this maple syrup caramel straight from the jar, there are a bunch of great ways to use it.
A few ideas:
1. It makes the perfect topping for vanilla ice cream ... or Maple Ice Cream, for that matter!
2. Drizzle it over breakfast pastries or breads.
4. Homemade caramel sauce makes a great fruit dip. This sauce + Mutsu apple slices = delicious perfection. Also great with pears and strawberries.
We also use it for “banana sushi” - something we learned about from a video at the GYM , of all places - sometimes, instead of peanut butter.
Just peel a banana, drizzle with this sauce, and top with nuts, seeds, and/or dried fruit, before slicing up like a sushi log. SO good!
This recipe only uses 5 basic ingredients. Because it’s so simple, it’s a good idea to use the best ingredients you can get your hands on.
A few notes:
Pure Maple Syrup
While most caramel sauce recipes rely on the inclusion of brown sugar, this one uses maple syrup as its sole sugar source.
You will need to use real maple syrup - the stuff that actually comes out of maple trees - NOT pancake syrup.
Sorry if that seems silly to specify, a nasty email I got a few years ago when someone tried using pancake syrup in one of my maple syrup recipes haunts me, LOL!
Different brands and grades of maple syrup will have different flavor profiles. In general, the darker it is, the more pronounced maple flavor it’ll have.
Ideally, you can find some of the maple syrup formerly known as “Grade B”. Nowadays, it’s usually labeled something like “Dark and Robust” or “Very Dark and Strong Taste”.
Rounding out the recipe, you’ll also need:
Heavy cream / whipping cream
No notes here - I wouldn’t recommend substituting anything in this one.
This recipe doesn’t need a ton of specialized equipment, but there are a couple things you should know:
Like most boiled sugar / caramel recipes, getting maple caramel sauce to the right temperature is very important.
Using a Candy Thermometer can make a huge difference, especially if it’s your first time making caramel. I’ve been making various forms of caramel for a few decades now, and I still use one!
That said, you CAN make this without one - see the tips section below for information on how.
... and also on what you can do if you accidentally overcook the caramel sauce!
Because this recipe doesn’t have a ton of volume, you’ll want a relatively small pot for it.
A larger pot may cook it faster, but if you have the syrup spread out on too big of a surface area, you won’t get an accurate reading on the thermometer.
A heavy bottomed pot is best, as it distributes the heat better than thinner pots.
How to Make Maple Syrup Caramel Sauce
The full recipe is in the recipe card at the end of this post, this is a pictorial walk through with additional tips and info.
In a heavy medium saucepan, melt butter and combine everything except the vanilla extract.
Bring maple cream mixture to a boil over medium heat, stirring constantly.
Make sure the tip of the thermometer is in the sugar mixture, but not touching the bottom of the pan.
Once mixture reaches 225, remove from heat, gently stir in the vanilla into the hot caramel.
Pour caramel into a glass jar, allow to cool to room temperature before covering.
Maple syrup caramel sauce will last for about a week when stored at room temperature - in an airtight container.
An 8 oz jam jar is perfect - just don’t apply the lid until it’s cooled to room temperature!
Tips and Tricks
When the sugar melts and boils, it’s REALLY important to not allow sugar crystals to form.
As I mentioned in the maple caramel apples post, sugar crystals can form any time you’re boiling and handling a melted sugar product - even when we’re talking the sugars in maple syrup.
Once they start forming, they can spread - and your caramel sauce will turn more fudge-like, than smooth.
You can avoid this by using a wet pastry brush to brush down the sides of the pot if crystals form.
Also, by, not stirring the caramel as it boils, and GENTLY stirring the vanilla in - and only stirring as much as necessary!
That said, if you do notice your sauce is more crystalline than you like, heat it up in the microwave for a short amount of time to melt the crystals.
Stir it GENTLY to disperse the heat - if you whip it, you can end up with fudge.
No Candy Thermometer?
While your results may not be perfectly consistent from batch to batch, you CAN cook this maple syrup caramel sauce without a candy thermometer.
Just let the syrup boil until it’s thick enough to coat the back of a spoon - it’ll thicken up a bit as it cools.
Homemade Maple Caramels
Did you loose track of time and let the temperature get a bit too high?
As long as it didn’t go TOO too high, you can rescue it by making homemade caramels out of it!
To take the recipe from overcooked sauce to chewy caramels, let it cook to anywhere between 240-245 - firm ball stage.
This is when you a bit of the hot caramel dropped into a bowl of ice water will instantly thicken to a texture that can be rolled into a firm ball.
When it’s the right temperature, pour it into a loaf baking dish that’s been greased or lined with parchment paper, and allow it to cool for a few hours.
Want a salty maple caramel? Sprinkle the top of the poured caramel with flaky sea salt right after you pour it.
Once the caramel is cooled and firmed up, cut it into pieces and wrap with wax paper.
Salted Maple Caramel Sauce
On that note, if you’d like a salty bite to your maple caramel, add a touch of sea salt at the same time as the vanilla - usually ¼ teaspoon works well!
More Maple Syrup Recipes!
Looking for more gluten free maple recipes? I've got some great ones for you!
Easy Pumpkin Custard
Gluten-Free Butter Tart Bars
Gluten-Free Butter Tarts
Gluten-Free Maple Pumpkin Pie
Gluten-Free Pumpkin Spice Mini Doughnuts
Maple Boubon Glazed Carrots
Maple Butter Tart Liqueur
Maple Dijon Wings
Maple Hard Cider
Maple Caramel Apples
Maple Caramel Corn
Maple Walnut Ice Cream
Maple White Cheddar Popcorn
Pumpkin Spice Latte
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Maple Caramel Sauce
- 1 cup Pure maple syrup
- ¼ cup Butter
- ⅓ cups Heavy cream
- ¼ teaspoon Salt
- 1 teaspoon Vanilla extract
- In a heavy bottomed, medium saucepan, combine everything except the vanilla extract.
- Bring to a boil over medium heat, stirring constantly.
- Once boiling, affix a candy thermometer to the pan. Make sure the tip of the thermometer is in the syrup mixture, but not touching the bottom of the pan.
- Boil - without stirring- until mixture reaches 225 F
- Once mixture reaches 225, remove from heat, gently stir in the vanilla. Allow to cool.