Truthfully, I thought it would be more difficult – downright challenging – to attempt making one of my favorite sauces from scratch.
Turns out – not so much.
And now I have a container brimming with caramel sauce that invites pretty much anything in for a dunk.
I know caramel, especially salted caramel, is the darling of the food world right now. But is has always been a weakness of mine. Come one, who can resist butter and vanilla enveloped in a hefty dose of sugar and cream? Not this gal. At my 50th birthday party I insisted on Amelie’s salted caramel brownies instead of cake. The sugar hangover was worth it.
But, let’s face it, commercial caramel sauces are simply a pale imitation of the real thing. In fact, they make me angry with their fake flavorings and flabby taste. But I bought them because I thought making the real deal was too hard, involving intimidating things like soft ball stages and brushing the pan down with a wet brush and candy thermometers.
I can admit it when I’m wrong. And boy, was I wrong.
In 20 minutes, I watched the magic transformation of boiling sugar water to a transformative, silky sauce.
Caramel making has a few challenges. You do have to stand over a hot stove and swirl the heck out the pan. But on a crisp autumn day, that’s not really a chore.
You also have to be careful when you add the butter and cream, because that sugar syrup roars up to envelope the new ingredients. Make sure you use a deep pan to accommodate the wave.
Decadent Caramel Sauce
1 cup sugar
1/4 cup water
8 Tbsp. unsalted butter, cut into pieces
1/2 cup heavy cream
2 tsp. vanilla
pinch of salt
Pour the sugar into a high-sided, heavy saucepan. Pour water over top of sugar and turn heat on medium. Swirl the pan continously, but gently over the heat until all of the sugar dissolves. Turn the heat to medium-high, cover the saucepan tightly and boil the sugar for two minutes. Remove the lid and start swirling the pan again to incorporate the hotter mixture on the edges into the middle. The syrup will start to turn a golden, nutty brown:
Don’t let it get much darker than this, because it will taste bitter.
Add the butter and use a spoon to beat it into the sugar:
Once the butter is incorporated, stir in the cream and continue stirring until sauce looks glossy:
Turn the heat off and stir in vanilla and salt.
The caramel sauce will keep for a month in the fridge. (Hahahaha).
Reheat it over a low flame. Don’t microwave it.