Sethness on LinkedIn

Caramel Colors for Baked Goods

Sethness liquid and powdered Caramel Colors and Caramelized Sugar Syrups are used in a variety of baking applications including:

  • Breads: wheat, pumpernickel, dark rye
  • Frozen dough
  • Cakes
  • Cookies
  • Crackers
  • Snacks
  • Cereal bars
  • Cocoa extender

For baking applications, both liquid and powdered Caramel Colors are a good coloring choice, but which one is best is based on when and how the Caramel Color will be added into the bakery product system. Generally speaking, liquid Caramel Colors are more economical; powdered Caramel Colors are easier to use. In some production locations, powdered Caramel Colors can be mixed with the product’s dry ingredients, or liquid Caramel Colors can be mixed with the liquid ingredients.

Occasionally, when liquid Caramel Colors are used in bakery applications, there are concerns about the extra moisture being added into the system. Adjustments may be made to the formula to reduce the water. Liquid Caramel Colors should be added to other liquid ingredients before the liquid mixture is added to the dry ingredients as this generates a more uniform color. Caramelized Sugar Syrups have been proven to be superior to sugar in providing moisture retention in frozen cakes and pastries due to less crystallization.

Occasionally, there is an issue of spotting or streaking in baking applications. If this occurs, Sethness recommends the following ideas to help minimize this problem:

  • Powdered Caramel Colors are extremely hygroscopic, so it is critical to avoid moisture and humidity. Premix the Powdered Caramel Color with other dry ingredients in an air-conditioned room to control moisture and possible lumping.
  • For better distribution, blend powdered Caramel Color with other dry components before adding to the liquid ingredients.
  • Powdered Caramel Color containers should be sealed after each use, as moisture can produce small lumps.
  • Ensure that there are no flakes on the side of the powdered Caramel Color bag. If there is any build up, this material may cause spotting and not dissolve easily.
  • The Powdered Caramel Color should be added through a screen system.
Caramel Color as a Cocoa Extender

Traditionally, Caramel Colors have been used as a food color additive to impart a desired appearance to a vast range of foods and beverages. However, Caramel Color can do much more than just color finished products. Caramel Colors can serve as a major component in cost saving alternatives for cocoa powder. Sethness works with a number of food and baking companies using our full range of powdered Caramel Colors to help reduce cocoa ingredient costs without compromising product quality.

Given the wide range of cocoa powders, there is no single solution to replacing cocoa using powdered Caramel Color blends. The following considerations are important when deciding which Sethness powdered Caramel Color to use.


Cocoa powders can vary considerably in color tones and darkness. Fortunately Sethness offers the world's largest selection of powdered Caramel Colors which can be used to match the appearance of cocoa powders, usually by blending with flour or maltodextrins. Our light, red tone powdered Caramel Colors are used in blends to reduce the cocoa usage by as much as 40%. Similarly, Sethness offers the darkest Class III and Class IV Caramel Colors available for use in blends to reduce the need for expensive alkalized (Dutch) cocoa powder by approximately 30%.


Somewhat surprisingly, some powdered Caramel Colors have flavor profiles similar to cocoa powder. Using a Gas Chromatograph/Mass Spectrophotometer, Sethness can demonstrate that some powdered Caramel Colors and cocoa powders have quite similar flavor profiles.

Sethness powdered Caramel Colors can be used as an extender but not as a total replacement in cocoa applications. Depending on whether you are using light cocoa powder, medium cocoa powder, or Dutch (dark) cocoa, here are some suggested formulas:

1. Light Color Cocoa 60%
  Sethness Powder RT175 30%
  Flour* 10%
2. Medium Color Cocoa 60%
  Sethness Powder BC420 20%
  Flour* 20%
3. Dutch (dark) Cocoa 80%
  Sethness Powder 858 10%
  Flour* 10%

* Depending on the type of application, the material used to complete the remaining formula could vary from flour to starch to maltodextrin, etc.