Caramel frosting adds a sweet topping to cakes, cookies and other baked goods, and it can be used as a drizzle to decorate desserts or served as a dip for fruit. Find out how easy it is to prepare a delicious homemade caramel sauce or frosting with a caramel icing recipe using condensed milk.
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Caramel frosting can be made with sweetened condensed milk or by substituting evaporated milk and adding extra sugar.
Caramel Frosting With Condensed Milk
Condensed milk is made by removing most of the water from whole milk. Sweetened condensed milk has sugar added. Unsweetened condensed milk, or evaporated milk, is lower in calories because it doesn't have added sugar.
These products were initially created in 1865 to serve as a concentrated form of milk to fight food poisoning during the U.S. Civil War, according to the University of San Diego. Today, they are commonly used in cooking and baking.
If you don't want to make caramel icing from scratch, you can use condensed milk to make a quick and easy creamy icing that saves you blending and cooking time. By using canned sweetened condensed milk, you won't need to add sugar. A tasty caramel flavor is developed by caramelizing the sugar in the sweetened milk.
In addition to making ordinary caramel frosting from condensed milk, with a little imagination, you can make it even more flavorful by adding coconut or chocolate. For example, a creamy caramel frosting with a fudgy twist involves heating 1 1/3 cups of sweetened condensed milk, 1 tablespoon of water and 1/8 teaspoon of salt in the top of a double boiler.
Add two squares of unsweetened chocolate and cook over rapidly boiling water. Stir often until the mixture thickens. Remove from heat. Let the frosting cool and thicken and then add 1/2 teaspoon of vanilla extract. You can also sprinkle in some nuts or bits of dried fruit for extra crunch.
As the frosting cools, it will continue to set. If it gets too thick, add a teaspoon of hot water and blend it with a mixer. To thicken the frosting, add some powdered sugar.
If you don't want to use canned sweetened condensed milk, you can make your own. A recipe from the USDA ChooseMyPlate recommends combining 1 cup of hot water, 2 cups of sugar, 2 tablespoons of margarine and 4 cups of nonfat dry milk powder in the blender and mixing well. Use your homemade sweetened condensed milk to make caramel sauce or frosting.
Read more: Is Sweetened Condensed Milk Unhealthy?
A layer of creamy caramel frosting is the perfect way to top off muffins and turn them into a decadent dessert. Try this nutritious LIVESTRONG.com recipe for Heather's Whole Wheat Carrot Cake Muffins and replace the cream cheese frosting with a dollop of caramel icing.
Watch the Sugar Content
Although it's made from cow's milk and contains some nutrients, sweetened condensed milk is high in sugar. The 2015–2020 Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommend limiting sugar to 10 percent of your total daily caloric intake.
Consuming too much sugar not only increases the odds of obesity and diabetes, but it can also put you at risk for heart disease, according to a 15-year study published in April 2014 in JAMA Internal Medicine. Participants who consumed 17 to 21 percent of their calories from added sugar had a 38 percent higher risk of dying from cardiovascular disease compared to those eating 8 percent of their calories from added sugars.
According to the USDA, a common brand of sweetened condensed milk contains 130 calories and 22 grams of sugar per 2 tablespoons. It also delivers 9.9 milligrams of cholesterol and 2 grams of saturated fat, which amounts to 10 percent of the daily value (DV). On the plus side, this popular ingredient offers 3 grams of protein and 80 milligrams of calcium.
Read more: 15 Reasons to Kick Sugar
Substituting Evaporated Milk
If you substitute evaporated milk for condensed milk, you could save some calories. According to the USDA, 2 tablespoons of evaporated whole milk contain about 40 calories and 3 grams of sugar. Evaporated milk is also available in skim, 1 percent and 2 percent varieties. However, to make caramel frosting, you need to add more sugar to evaporated milk than if you were using condensed milk.
To reduce calories, you can modify the amount of sugar required for most types of icing made with evaporated milk. For example, you could use brown rice syrup, honey or artificial sweeteners in chocolate flavored, vanilla or lemony frostings.
Caramel frosting requires the caramelization of sugar by heating, a type of nonenzymatic browning reaction, to develop that distinctive flavor. Therefore, you will need to use a sufficient amount of granulated white or brown sugar to achieve this result. In this case, natural or artificial sweeteners won't do the trick.
Read more: The Ultimate Guide to Natural Sweeteners
- University of San Diego: "Common milks found in the market"
- USDA ChooseMyPlate: "Sweetened Condensed Milk"
- Health.gov: "Dietary Guidelines for Americans, 2015-2020: Appendix 7. Nutritional Goals for Age-Sex Groups Based on Dietary Reference Intakes and Dietary Guidelines Recommendations"
- USDA FoodData Central: "Sweetened Condensed Milk"
- USDA FoodData Central: "Evaporated Milk"
- JAMA Internal Medicine: "Added Sugar Intake and Cardiovascular Diseases Mortality Among US Adults"
- Michigan State University: "Borden's Eagle Brand Magic Recipes-Frosting in a Flash"