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Caramel Icing

Use this delicious recipe when making the Dolley Madison Layer Cake.

  • Yield: Makes enough for one 8-inch layer cake
Caramel Icing

Source: The Martha Stewart Show, April Spring 2008


  • 3 cups light-brown sugar
  • 1 cup light cream
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract


  1. Whisk together sugar, cream, and butter in a medium bowl. Set bowl over (but not touching) simmering water, cook until thickened, about 20 minutes. Remove bowl from heat; stir in vanilla. Let cool.

Reviews (8)

  • joannabee 28 Jan, 2011

    I agree with skypilot. I've made a wonderful CARAMEL frosting from Rose Birnbaum's Cake Bible - it is amazing, delicious, caramel goodness - but too difficult for me to make. It involves making the caramel from scratch and heating to a very precise temperature before beating into the frosting - and I never get it exactly right. I'm looking for a good substitute.

  • amom44 9 Dec, 2010

    Loved this as an inner filling-I made a yellow cake, split the layers, iced each of the 1st 3 layers w/this icing and sprinkled each w/coconut. For the 4th layer, I iced the whole cake in whipped cream flavored w/coconut rum and sprinkled the top with coconut.Yum!

  • sfain 12 Sep, 2008

    I don't understand why this is called caramel icing when it is in fact butterscotch. I have been looking for a good caramel icing recipe so that I can make a favorite childhood cake and so far haven't found one.

  • ypriscilla 10 Sep, 2008

    The icing needs to simmer in the top of the double boiler for at LEAST 20 minutes. It took longer for the brown sugar to dissolve but it was worth the wait. I made it for ice cream and next time I will make the cake. It has a really great flavor.

  • GwenninSpring 24 Apr, 2008

    I made this today. The cake was great. EASY to follow directions. The glaze is way too watery. Even chilled, it ran in the fridge. Next time I'll use whole cream or less cream alltogether. Overall the taste was great!

  • jhw516 14 Apr, 2008

    I wouldn't worry about salted vs. unsalted butter. The amount of vanilla should depend on the type and quality that you have. If you're using McCormick's - I always use more. If you have something better and/or w/ a stronger flavor, the tsp. should be fine.

  • frankiesgirl 9 Apr, 2008

    They laughed when they read "light" cream, and said you could use "heavy cream" ..when you are using cream, there isn't that much difference. Unsalted butter is usually used in baking, and looking at the proportions, I would say it is 1 tsp of vanilla extract. Hope this helps.

  • rluck990 9 Apr, 2008

    This sounds different from what they said on the TV show. I thought it was heavy cream or white cream? Also there was 2 times when they added vanilla, not just once, and I don't remember them saying it had to be unsalted butter. I really want to get this one right, my family is gonna love this!!!!

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