I'm trying to make a 'magic-shell' like topping from burnt sugar syrup by mixing burnt sugar syrup (sugar + corn syrup heated until dark copper color, cooked with water until smooth) with coconut oil. The idea being to serve on ice cream and have a crispy or at least hard shell that tastes like burnt caramel.

When I tried this the first time, the result was a layer of hardened coconut oil on the ice cream, and a pool of syrup at the bottom of the ice-cream dish.

It feels like I need a better way to keep the coconut oil and the syrup emulsified so that when the coconut oil hardens up the syrup is 'locked up' in the solid. Is there something that I can add to the mixture to encourage this happening?


  • Why are you adding water to the syrup?
    – zetaprime
    Commented Oct 25, 2019 at 15:45
  • @zetaprime I thought that without adding a liquid to the burnt sugar it would be too thick to flow, I was trying for a caramel sauce consistency.
    – A Barron
    Commented Oct 28, 2019 at 20:46
  • Aside from Xanthan gum as mentioned by @MrShane, you might also look into guar gum, locust bean gum, etc. You can also ask a food technologist for advice, some gum distributors (e.g., TIC gums) actually employ technicians in-house that can address these types of formulation questions.
    – Arctiic
    Commented May 16, 2023 at 5:39

2 Answers 2


Coconut oil isn't ever a 1-1 swap with dairy butter, which has a small amount of water in as well as compounds that allow it to emulsify.

If you're avoiding butter, try using a good quality margarine instead of coconut oil.

Lecithin granules work well. Add half a teaspoon at a time, whisking it or using a hand-blender. Agar and xanthan gum are both good emulsifiers but might cause it to thicken up a bit too much as a lot goes a long way.

  • Thanks for your thoughts Gulliver; I'm not trying to avoid dairy, instead I'm trying for a magic shell effect with a caramel flavor, so I'm counting on the coconut oil to solidify when it gets cold from the ice cream. And it is doing that, it's just not 'capturing' the caramel with it.
    – A Barron
    Commented Sep 1, 2020 at 16:06
  • Ah, I get you. Try an emulsifier in that case. Alternatively, reduce the amount of water you use to almost none and up the fat content - most recipes use chocolate instead of syrup and chocolate is already basically an emulsion so it'll mix in more readily.
    – Gulliver
    Commented Sep 2, 2020 at 11:49

You can stabilize the sugar syrup and coconut oil emulsion with about 1% by weight of Xanthan powder. So if finished recipe is 750 ml then you will need about 7.5g of Xanthan powder.

First you must emulsify the syrup with the Xanthan, which can be done by blending for a minute or so, then slowly blending in the oil.

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