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I've seen a recipe using a sweetener instead of sugar for caramel. I'm wondering what kind of sweetener would actually work for this - the recipe didn't specify.

Various sweeteners I've seen in the shop are pretty different:

  • 50% sugar "sweetener"
  • Saccharine based
  • Stevia extract
  • ...

What process am I actually looking at when making a (...) + butter + sour cream caramel? What ingredient makes it possible?

  • 3
    ...you mean using a non-sugar sweetener for making the caramel, instead of sugar? I don't think its going to be easy, replicating the physical caramelization of sugar is quite different from triggering sweetness receptors. I mean, there's honey caramels and the like, but any artificial sweetener based caramel is going to be tricky and take some delicate chemical balancing, and it will definitely be specific-sweetener-dependant -my best advice is to look up a dedicated recipe for whatever sweetener you want to work with... I can't imagine subbing sweetener into just any sugar caramel recipe – Megha Jun 10 '18 at 6:23
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    then either that sauce is not actually a caramel, but some confection of a sauce that really only does need sweetness to taste, in which case any will do interchangeably (the point then being making that sauce, so only that recipe will do... so if you want an analysis you'd have to post that recipe), or else it's not a real recipe, it just wouldn't work. Random granulated sweeteners do not caramelize like sugar, and each one would have its own properties to account for if trying to make a sugar-free caramel, so they can't be subbed for each other, either. – Megha Jun 10 '18 at 8:03
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    I agree: we need the recipe... – Fabby Jun 10 '18 at 12:00
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    In the recipe, did they rule out sugar? Because that's may be communication mistake, they write "sweetener" thinking "different types of sugar" while you think "sweet things that are not sugar". – SZCZERZO KŁY Jun 11 '18 at 8:47
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    Without having seen the recipe it's possible that it uses some sort of caramel flavouring for the actual caramel flavour and doesn't caramelise during the process of making the sauce. – Chris H Apr 29 at 6:32
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I'm pretty sure that what the recipe means by "granulated sweetener of choice" is the choice between Sugar, raw cane sugar, or light or dark brown sugars. All these can be used to create delicious caramels.

  • This recipe was going for a low-carb / no sugar result. I'm pretty sure they meant a non-sugar sweetener. – viraptor Nov 30 '18 at 3:01
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Isomalt has properties that resemble sugar pretty closely. I have never cooked with it myself, and I have read contradictory opinions about how easy it is to caramelize, though.

  • I know you can use it to make hard candies with, at the very least. – nick012000 Jun 28 at 16:03
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The only non-caloric sweetener that I knew of that is chemically similar to sugar, and so might have a chance at caramelizing was sucralose. ... but everything that I've read up on it says it's heat stable (but that might just be at baking temperatures).

Searching for 'sucralose caramel', I was able to find a few recipes, but they all seem to be using a mix of sucralose and some other sugar. ("Splenda Sugar Blend for Baking" is not pure sucralose)

But that search also found:

... which uses "Surkin Gold", which is erythritol, derived from glucose.

So I suspect it's possible to replace some of the sugar with sugar-derived non-caloric sweeteners, but you may need to experiment with exactly how much you can get away with, and may need to tweak your process slightly.

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