I wanted to share what I learned along the way so I apologize for this long post but I think you will find it helpful if this will be your first attempt to make caramel sauce.
Since I never worked with cooked sugar I needed to do research. For me it's the more you know, the better the experience.
I found lots of recipes and videos which were all very helpful. Most of the recipes were very similar though the techniques were a little different.
After 3 tries, I think I found the right balance. I have to say this is really easy but I do think there is a learning curve -- the sugar can burn in a matter of seconds.
As you can see in above photo the sugar started to turn amber in the middle photo. In the photo on the left the sugar turned amber. I waited 5 seconds too long to remove the pan from the burner. I didn't realize this until I finished the recipe and tasted the sauce. It tasted just a bit
I was taking the photo when I was adding the cream to the amber colored sugar so I wasn't able to whisk the cream into the sugar. When I finally put the pan back on the heat the sugar crystals started to harden and they didn't dissolve enough which left the caramel sauce a little grainy.
On the third try the caramel sauce turned out just right. It takes a little technique, or in my case a try or
- Candy Thermometer: Many recipes call for using a candy thermometer. I used one on my first try but my oversized thermometer didn't work. This recipe uses a small amount of sugar and the tip of the thermometer just skimmed the top of the melted sugar. So unless you have a smaller sized candy thermometer you can make this recipe without it.
- Stirring vs. Shaking: Most of the recipes said to stir the sugar. I found a couple of videos that instructed to NOT stir but to occasionally shake the pot to evenly distribute the hot sugar which helps to prevent the sugar from burning.
- Ingredients: Most of the recipes called for varying amounts of water and cream to sugar ratio. I found that on each try the sauce resulted in varying degrees of thickness. I decided to reduce the amounts of water and cream. I was able to get the desired thickness on the last try.
- Timing: All the recipes I viewed said that cooking the sugar would take 5 to 8 minutes. For this particular recipe it is very important to realize that everyone's stovetop burners have varying levels of BTU's or heat output. The HOT TIP on timing for this recipe is pay attention to the color of the sugar while cooking. The time will definitely be shorter or longer based on your stove.
- The recipe below takes less than 15 minutes from start to finish. Steps 1 to 3 will take anywhere from 5-10 minutes depending on your stove. Steps 4 to 6 will only take a few minutes. Just keep stirring on low heat to be sure all the sugar crystals have dissolved (approx. 2-5 minutes depending on how much the sugar crystalized at the cream stage).
Salted Caramel Sauce
- 1 cup sugar
- 1/4 cup water
- 3/4 cup heavy cream
- 1/2 TBLS. light (not dark) corn syrup (0 grams High Fructose Corn Syrup)
- 4 TBLS butter
- 1-2 TBLS. Sea Salt, Grey Salt or table salt (optional)
- Add sugar and water to medium heavy bottomed saucepan over medium heat. Shake and rotate pan until the sugar and water have blended. Shake every 25-30 seconds or two until the sugar has dissolved.
- Continue to cook over medium/low heat while the sugar cooks. Shake the pan occasionally to distribute the hot sugar evenly in the pan to prevent burning.
- You will notice the sugar changing color from clear to amber color.
- When sugar is amber color immediately remove from heat and slowly add the cream. Whisk briskly while adding cream to prevent boil-over.
- Immediately put pan back on the heat and whisk in 1 TBLS. of butter at a time.
- Keep whisking the mixture until all the sugar has dissolved and the mixture is smooth.
- Add 1 TBLS. salt and stir.
- Pour the mixture into a jar or pitcher and let cool. It will take quite a while to cool down and begin to thicken.
- When the caramel sauce has cooled, taste for desired level of saltiness. If you prefer more salt you can add it and microwave it for a few seconds to get the salt incorporated into the sauce.
This recipe yields just about 1 cup of caramel sauce. It will keep refrigerated for approximately 2 weeks. Pour over ice cream, apple pie, or use as a dip for apple slices.
Once you feel comfortable making homemade salted caramel sauce you can make it often and give it as gifts. Perfect for the upcoming holiday season when you want to bring a hostess gift - just put in mason jars, tie with ribbon and voila! Happy Holiday!