Caramel Frosting
Prep time
Total time
Brown sugar Caramel Frosting is an old American tradition. Unlike some brown sugar frostings such as penuche that become dry and sugary, the sugar mixture is first cooked, resulting in a frosting stays soft and creamy. Use this frosting with a sour cream yellow cake to make a Southern classic, Caramel Cake.
Recipe type: Dessert | Cake Frosting
  • 10 Tablespoons (1 stick plus 2 tablespoons) unsalted butter, cut into chunks
  • 2½ cups firmly packed light brown sugar
  • ¼ cup light corn syrup
  • ⅛ teaspoon salt
  • ½ cup whipping (heavy) cream, room temperature
  • 3 cups confectioners’ (powdered) sugar
  • 2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  1. In a medium size heavy saucepan; preferably non-stick, combine the butter, brown sugar, corn syrup, and salt. Heat on low heat until the butter is melted and sugar dissolves, stirring constantly with a rubber spatula or wooden spoon. Increase the heat to medium-high and bring the mixture to a boil, stirring constantly. Remove pan from heat, gradually stir in the whipping cream. Return the pan to the heat; bring back to a boil and cook, stirring constantly, for 1 minute. Remove from heat and let stand about 5 minutes to let the bubbling subside and allow the mixture to cool slightly.
  2. Pour hot sugar mixture into a large bowl of an electric mixer; add confectioners’ sugar and vanilla and beat on medium speed until completely smooth and free of lumps. Stop the mixer occasionally to scrape the mixture off the paddle and scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl with a rubber spatula so the mixture blends evenly. Let stand until cooled and mixture is stiff enough for frosting, 30 to 60 minutes, stirring occasionally. To speed the cooling, either place in the refrigerator or set the bowl in a large bowl of ice water.
  3. When frosting is cooled and stiffened, stir again to loosen and make fluffy. If the frosting seems too stiff, stir in a few drops of water; if the frosting seems too soft, stir in a little more confectioners’ sugar 1 tablespoon at a time.
  4. Frosting should be used immediately. Using an offset spatula, spread frosting between layers and over top and sides of cake. If the frosting seems to stiffen too much while frosting the cake, beat in a few drops of water.
Adapted From: Baggett, Nancy, The All-American Dessert Book, Houghton Mifflin Co, New York, 2005
Recipe Notes
Equipment: Electric Mixer Method: Stovetop Yield: 4 Cups Storage: Refrigerate or Freeze

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