This citrus-based caramel is fruity and delicate, but with the mellow sweetness of classic caramel. The sauce is somewhat thinner than a typical caramel.

You can make this sauce vegan if you leave out the butter at the end. Be sure to strain the juice thoroughly so that you don’t have bits of pulp that can burn in the hot caramel.


1 cup sugar

1/4 cup water

3/4 cup fresh strained clementine or tangerine juice (from about 6 clementines or 3 tangerines)

1/4 teaspoon kosher salt, or more as needed

1/4 teaspoon pure vanilla extract, or more as needed

1 tablespoon cold, unsalted butter (optional; see headnote)

1/2 teaspoon orange blossom water (optional)


Step 1

Combine the sugar and water in a medium, heavy-bottomed saucepan over medium-high heat. Stir a lot at first to dissolve the sugar. Once it is dissolved, boil, undisturbed, until it begins to turn light golden. At this point, the water has cooked off and the sugar is starting to caramelize.

Step 2

Continue cooking, carefully swirling the pan a bit so the caramelizing is even, until the syrup is a deep amber color, like the color of a strong iced tea; this should take between 8 and 12 minutes, and the process goes very fast, so watch closely. You might see the tiniest wisps of smoke coming from the syrup, too.

Step 3

Remove from the heat. Immediately add about 1/4 cup of the clementine juice and stir for a few seconds The mixture is going to bubble and create a lot of steam. The caramel might seize up; this is all okay.

Step 4

Add the remaining juice. Return the pan to the stove top, over medium-low heat; cook for 3 or 4 minutes, stirring with a whisk or heatproof flexible spatula until smooth and slightly thickened.

Step 5

Add the salt and vanilla extract, taste a cooled-off portion, and adjust with more salt or vanilla extract as needed. Finish by whisking in the butter, and then the orange blossom water, if using either or both.

Step 6

Serve warm or cool; the sauce thickens a bit more as it cools.

From cookbook author Martha Holmberg.

Tested by Ali Sharman and Kara Elder; email questions to voraciously@washpost.com.

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The nutritional analysis is per 2-tablespoon servings.


Calories: 100; Total Fat: 0 g; Saturated Fat: 0 g; Cholesterol: 0 mg; Sodium: 30 mg; Carbohydrates: 24 g; Dietary Fiber: 0 g; Sugars: 24 g; Protein: 0 g.