Southern Caramel Icing

Southern Caramel Icing from addapinch.com

 

Yesterday I shared with you about my Mama’s Chocolate Marble Squares. Well, I had lots of emails and requests for the recipe for the caramel icing to go along with it.

Have I ever told you that you are definitely my kind of people?

You most certainly are! There is nothing like fresh, homemade caramel icing to make the world go ’round.

Cause I really and truly think that it does.

Good caramel icing is an act of love. You truly put your heart and soul into making good southern caramel icing.

My Grandmother Verdie would stand at her stove for what seemed like hours swirling her pan to get the perfect “color” on her sugar. Her hands wrought with arthritis, she held the cast iron dutch oven as tightly as possible as she kept the rhythm of the caramel in her heavy pan. She never used a mixer to make her caramel icing, I always was amazed that she didn’t. The time it had taken her to swirl her pan earlier seemed like seconds compared to watching her beat the icing by hand.

When I married, I learned that my mother-in-law also had a special recipe for a cake topped with southern caramel icing. She’d learned to make it from an aunt of my father-in-law’s when she married into the family. She’d talk about how Aunt T would beat her icing by hand so that it would be just right. While her recipe was slightly different, Aunt T’s  and my Grandmother’s method were still the same.

When Little Buddy turned one, I decided it was high time that I made a caramel cake myself. We were living with my husband’s parents as we were building our house at the time. We’d invited all of our family to a dinner to celebrate the big day. I’d worked for weeks planning the menu, creating the perfect invitations, finding just the right color of light blue placemats to match a speck of blue in my mother-in-law’s rug, and thinking about this cake.

It had to be perfect.

The icing had to taste just like the caramel icing from when I was a little girl carefully watching my Grandmother.

I set out to make the icing all by myself. I was determined not to call Grandmother Verdie to help me. The arthritis had even further ravaged her hands by now, but I knew she wouldn’t let that stop her from trying to make it for me.

After three attempts, I finally had a caramel icing I could spread on Little Buddy’s birthday cake. I felt like I had accomplished the world. I’d repeated the dance I’d watched so many times before, swirl and stir, swirl and stir, swirl and stir until I finally found just the right rhythm.

Here’s how I make it.

 

3.5 from 15 reviews
Southern Caramel Icing
 
Cook time
Total time
 
Southern Caramel Icing goes perfectly with Southern Caramel Cake, cupcakes, brownies, and all sorts of other desserts. A Southern Classic.
Author:
Ingredients
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • ½ cup Crisco
  • ½ cup butter
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
Instructions
  1. Mix all ingredients in a 3-4 quart cast iron dutch oven.
  2. Swirl pan to keep ingredients moving in the pan.
  3. Cook to softball stage 235º - 245º on a candy thermometer or when tested in a cup of cold water.
  4. Remove from heat and beat with a wooden spoon until creamy and ready to spread.
  5. This is a perfect icing for Southern Caramel Cake

 

I hope you enjoy this recipe as much as my family does.

Enjoy!

 

About Robyn

A seventh generation Southern wife and mom who loves to share simple, fresh, and scrumptious recipes the whole family will enjoy.

Comments

  1. 80
    Mary F. Cummings says:

    Do I need to double the icing recipe for a 3 layer cake?

  2. 81

    Do I need a dutch oven? what if i dont have one?

  3. 82

    My carmel icing tasted great… It was a runny mess… I beat with my hands then with an electric hand mixer because I got tired. The icing lightend up but didnt get fluffy… I beat for at least 10 min…. What did I do wrong

    • 83

      mine too! I tried 2 separate batches. one, I beat with a wooden spoon but the recipe calls for “swirling so I tried that (not really knowing what that means) but it turned out the same. great flavor, but more like a melted carmel than a frosting.

  4. 84

    I was reading up on other posts and I dnt think we let the carmel cook until it was thick enough Maya L… I was supposed to get rlly thick then u beat with the wooden spoon…. I will try again soon. I hope this helps the BOTH of us

    • 85

      It is really the best tasting saucy stuff. I will definitely try this again. I’ll keep y’all posted.

    • 86
      Cyndi Steinberger says:

      You have to cook til softball stage and then a little longer…..maybe three -five minutes until starts to thicken….I’ve made multiple times and it’s great

  5. 87

    I tried this recipe and it made a caramel sauce…
    I even let it cook longer due to individuals comments, but that was to no avail.
    Maybe I will try again.

    • 88

      Hi RoRo,
      Did it reach the softball stage and was still runny after you beat it with the wooden spoon or with the mixer? It will not be a fluffy frosting recipe as this is a cooked caramel icing.

      Thanks,
      Robyn xo

    • 89

      I don’t know, but I found another recipe that worked just fine. :)

  6. 90

    hello! I did this recipe and I think that is similar to buttercream, my question is: what is the difference between buttercream and this recipe that you show here? thank you and I follow you from Venezuela

  7. 91

    Hi, I tried this recipe to bake a birthday cake for my daughter teacher. The caramel sauce is not that hard to make make 100% sure you do the cool water test before takeing it of the fire and creaming it. To test softball stage, simply take a small bowl of cold water and let a teaspoon full of he boiling sauce drop in to the water. If it sinks to the bottom in a caramelized stage and you can shape it with your finger then its ready.

    Best Regards
    Roman

  8. 92
    msriddle9 says:

    Im borderline surprised.. NO Vanilla??what part of the south u from??

  9. 93
    Louise Hargove says:

    I just made this Cake and Icing . Cake turned out great . Icing got too thick too fast . Guess I’m just slow . LOL Very tasty though . I couldn’t ice the sides because it thickened too soon . I was gonna tear the cake up . Gonna make dipped candies out of the extra icing .

  10. 94

    Hi Robyn, when you say “Crisco” do you mean shortening or oil? Thanks!

  11. 96

    I’m so excited to try this. The dough is really soft and taste GREAT. I’m refrigerating it until morning.

  12. 97

    Robyn this comment was for the Sugar Cookies…ooops

  13. 98

    Just tried this for my son’s 12th bday tomorrow. The cakes came out fine. The frosting did not. It’s spreadable, but not at all creamy. It’s smooth and shiny and harder, not fluffy the way it looks in the picture. I took the advice to use an electric mixer. The ingredients are too much to waste it trying over and over again trying to get it right. Sorry it didn’t work for me. In theory, I’m sure it’s a wonderful cake.

  14. 99

    I haven’t tried this yet but I have a question. What is softball stage?

  15. 100

    Found you through Pinterest, made it tonight… Kids likes it but hubby didn’t, I’m torn!!! Icing didn’t get as dark as yours and it was not creamy still was gritty…. Gonna try icing again with a chocolate cake….

  16. 101

    I made the southern caramel cake this afternoon/evening.
    The cake part is really good, the icing part is terrible…
    I probably did something wrong, but my frosting separated into oil and lumpy fudgy mess.
    It was unspreadable and basically consisted of crumbs which was extremely annoying after spending so much time on both the cake and the icing… oh well. I’ll be making the cake again but I’ll definitely find another icing recipe to go with it.

    • 102

      Oh no, Becky! I’m sorry the caramel gave you problems. It can be a bear at times. At what point did it separate on you? For it to become crumbly like that, it sounds like it may have gone too far.

  17. 103

    Hi, what’s crisco and is it a necessity? I live in the UK and I don’t know what it is.
    Thanks!

  18. 105

    hi, i tried making this caramel and it tasted really good! but something was wrong woth the texture. it was fine when i checked for softball stage so i removed it from the heat and beat it using a wooden spoon. but the problem was it started to caramelize. where do you think i went wrong?

  19. 106
    W Wrather says:

    I have a better recipe for the icing just boil sum water in a soup/chili pot. Put 2 cans of Eagle Brand sweetened condensed milk or whatever you have available in your supermarket. Let it boil for like 3/4 hrs let the can rest for 5mins then carefully open them then just spread on your cooled cakes. Way less trouble. Taste just like carmel from the store.

  20. 108
    Danielle says:

    Hi! I tried this recipe and I’m pretty used to making cooked syrup recipes but for this one I was a little confused. I cooked all the ingredients while stirring and swirling alternately and I got a nice color on the syrup, almost like your picture. However, once the caramel started to cool, it started to get hard and grainy. Was I supposed to whip the caramel while it was still hot or did I over-cook the syrup?

  21. 109

    Hi,
    I made your salted caramel frosting and it tasted great! I also want
    To try this recipe but i dont have a dutch oven.can i use a normal pan? And can
    I substitute the buttermilk with sourmilk instead? Thank you!

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