Homemade Caramel Sauce

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1 cup heavy cream
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 Tablespoons unsalted butter, softened and cut into 8 pieces
1/4 -1/2 teaspoon Kosher salt
1 1/3 cups granulated sugar
1/4 cup water
2 Tablespoons light corn syrup

Make the caramel:
       Combine the heavy cream, butter, vanilla and salt in a 1 cup glass measuring cup. Place the cream mixture and the diced butter near the saucepan on the stove.
       In an heavy bottomed 2 quart saucepan, attach a candy thermometer to the side of the pot Add the sugar. Pour the water around the edges of the pan, so that the sugar touching the sides of the pot is saturated. Add the corn syrup, but don't stir the mixture!
       Over medium to medium-high heat, allow the mixture to cook on its own until it reaches 330 degrees on the thermometer, about 13-16 minutes. Again, don't stir the mixture.
       Remove the pot from the heat. Add the butter, and the cream mixture. It will bubble a lot. Allow the bubbling to subside. Stir to combine as best you can. The mixture may have become lumpy, even one big mass. Don't worry! Place the pot back over low heat, and keep stirring until the caramel is completely smooth. If the mixture begins to boil, remove it from the heat and continue stirring. Cool completely and transfer to a container. Store in the refrigerator for up to 2 weeks.

Makes 2 cups. YUM!! .

LESSONS Learned:
       Don't be afraid! and don't be deterred by this long winded list that follows. Remember it's part of the learning curve. Once you've got it, it will be as easy as pie! Well that one's for another day. Take a peak down the page at how short the actual recipe is, and you'll see just what I mean.

1. Make sure you have a big heavy duty pot. For this recipe, at least 2 quarts. (I use an All Clad saucepan.) And I have a long-handled spoon at the ready, as well as the ever important candy thermometer that you can hook to the side of the pot. Make sure it's positioned all the way to the bottom.
2. Just dump the sugar, corn syrup and water in the pot, NO STIRRING REQUIRED. For extra insurance, try to pour the water around the edge so that the sugar touching the sides of the pot gets dampened. You can gently tilt the pot to help that happen if you like, but it's probably not necessary.
3. DON'T, AND I MEAN DON'T, STIR the pot while it's cooking! Just leave it alone!!--no swirling the pot, no wet brush to wash down the sides.
4. Have all of the rest of your ingredients close by and ready to go. I have the heavy cream, butter, vanilla and salt pre-measured in a glass measuring cup right by the side of the stove.
5. This process requires PATIENCE!! Until you know your stove, you can walk away from the pot, but after the first 7 or 8 minutes, return every minute or two to check the temperature. It will seem to sit stubbornly at around 220-240 degrees, and you might think you have more time than you actually do. All of a sudden, 10-12 minutes in, it will start to ascend much more quickly up to that 330 degree mark. Some recipes say 320, but I think 330 is better. I now know on my stove, I can safely put the timer on 15 minutes.
6. Remove the mixture from the heat before you add the other ingredients.Spoon the butter in and pour in the rest. Yes, it will bubble a lot, yes even "violently." But instead of FREAKING OUT! just step back and WAIT until the bubbling calms down before you start stirring. Your pot is big enough and your spoon has a nice long handle to avoid rising steam, so you'll be fine.
7. And this is key, and many recipes don't tell you to do this. You may end up with a big brown mass of sugar, at which point you might think that you have ruined the caramel forever. But don't worry. Just place the pot back on the burner over low heat, and keep stirring until it magically becomes smooth, creamy and delicious!

       This caramel sauce is YUMMY!! drizzled over ice cream, or used as a dip for pretzel sticks, pound cake, fruit or even just by the spoonful.