Whey Caramel

By Mia
May 4, 2017


Author Notes: Lately I have been making a lot of ricotta from fresh whole milk, which results in a lot of leftover whey. Too much whey to know what to do with. My freezer has become a stockpile of whey, and most of the ideas out there for using it up, only call for a little bit. lacto-fermentation, and adding whey to your beans while soaking are great ideas, but I would need to eat a lot of beans to use up all my whey. So when a friend told me that she had heard you can make caramel from whey, I got to work. This was the perfect whey (haha)! It seemed like it would work the same as making dulce de leche, which is just slow cooking milk and sugar- instead of whole milk I would use whey.
The result was a smooth, thick and tangy caramel, with a viscosity similar to a heavy molasses. Perfect for using in baked goods, dumping on ice cream, and eating by the spoonful.
This recipe does take a long time to make, but much of it is hands off, and it’s not as sensitive as making caramel the traditional way- which I usually end up burning or impatiently stirring before the sugar melts, making a chunky mess.
Mia

Makes: 3 cups

Ingredients

  • 2 quarts Whey
  • 2 cups Sugar
  • 4 ounces Butter
  • 1 tablespoon Vanilla Extract
  • 1 Hefty pinch of salt- I used flaky
In This Recipe

Directions

  1. Simmer the whey in a heavy bottom pot on medium until it reduces by about half. Skim the foam off the top if needed. You could probably do this part at a higher temperature while keeping a close eye on it and stirring frequently so it doesn’t scorch. I like the hands off factor of this recipe, so once I got it to a slow simmer I walked away from it for an hour.
  2. After about 1- 1 1/2 hours your whey should be reduced by half and you can add the cane sugar. Stir it until the sugar is melted and it comes back to a simmer.
  3. Leave it again to simmer and caramelize. Check on it periodically to stir and assess the progress. Once you add the sugar, the caramelization process will take just over an hour.
  4. As it cooks down and caramelizes it will start to bubble and foam, keep it going on low and keep an eye on the color. Once the color is a medium-dark amber (your preference) and the viscosity looks like syrup add the cold butter and stir as it melts, continue to stir until the butter is completely mixed in.
  5. Add salt and vanilla extract.

More Great Recipes:
Cheese|5 Ingredients or Fewer|Make Ahead|One-Pot Wonders|Slow Cook|Vegetarian|Gluten-Free|Dessert

Reviews (6) Questions (0)

6 Reviews

Anne July 28, 2018
I just made this today with whey leftover from making yogurt. Absolutely out of this world good. I had 1 quart of whey and I added 3/4 cups of sugar. The perfect balance of sweetness and tanginess. Thanks for the idea and the recipe!
 
Barbara May 25, 2017
Do you think this would work with the why drained from yogurt?
 
manderjoy May 5, 2017
Does it really seem worth it to you? I'm not being patronizing, I'm being serious. I've done this before, and it took sooo long that I wondered if the energy I consumed reducing it wasn't worth the intentioned frugality of using up my whey.
 
Author Comment
Mia May 5, 2017
I do! Because as long as you're at home, you really don't have to do anything to this recipe until the last 20 minutes or so, which is about the same time it would take you to make a regular caramel. The results, in my opinion, have a more unique flavor and better consistency than what I get from regular techniques.
 
manderjoy May 7, 2017
Well cool! I make like a dozen different kinds of cheeses and always have whey too much whey...it's like literally the only thing I throw awhey sometimes. I will have to revisit the concept and give your recipe a new try. Thanks!
 
Jude May 4, 2017
I'll have to try this! I don't make paneer (what you called ricotta - true ricotta is made with whey from regular cheese-making) as much as you. I use my whey in baking but the idea of tangy caramel sounds too good to pass. Thanks for the article and recipe