Fear Conquered: Real Caramel Sauce
Caramels are little cubes of firm yet soft candy wrapped in a clear bit of plastic. And made by Kraft. Right?
Or caramel is a squeeze of marvelous golden glue over ice scream. From a convenient, slim plastic bottle in the fridge door. And made by Hershey. Right?
Or it's a can of sweetened condensed milk boiled for an eternity until only golden goodness remains. Technically called dulce de leche. Right?
Nope, nope, nope. That stuff is all just sad imposters. Really convenient, really easy - I'll give you that. But not caramel. Because caramel has no need of high fructose corn syrup (HFCS). It has no need of preservatives. It has no need of artificial caramel-color-number-whatever. And definitely no need of the BPA canning chemical.
Love yourself a little more and ditch those caramel impersonators. Or if you can't love yourself enough to bother, than love someone else a little more. Melt a little sugar, add a little cream, toss in a pinch of salt and take a deep breath. You just made caramel. Real caramel. Real easy.
No scary candy thermometers, no cauldrons, no special ingredients. No HFCS, artificial colors, preservatives or canning chemicals either. But you can keep it in a squeeze bottle if you want. For convenience.
But real caramel plays for keeps. And once you fall in love, your heart will never accept substitutions. No squeeze bottles of artificial glue. No cans of cooked chemical milk. No plastic wrapped cubes. So open your heart to love and throw out that bag of Kraft caramel squares. A genuine caramel romance awaits.
|Combine sugars in a medium stainless steel pot.|
|Cover pot and heat over medium-low until sugar is completely dissolved into a syrup.|
|Meanwhile, cube the butter.|
|Measure heavy cream.|
|Add whole milk to the heavy cream.|
|Add kosher salt to the heavy cream.|
|Add vanilla extract.|
|Once sugar is completely dissolved, increase the heat to medium-high.|
|When the sugar comes to the boil, continue to cook for 8 to 10 minutes until the syrup darkens into a deep amber.|
|When the syrup begins to foam, the caramelized sugar is ready for the butter and cream.|
|Add the cubed butter all at once. Stir gently to combine.|
|Allow the sauce to continue to cook over medium heat until it becomes foamy again.|
|Add the cream mixture in 3 parts, stirring gently and allowing the sauce to thicken and begin to foam before adding more cream.|
|After the final addition of cream, allow the sauce to foam as shown for 4 minutes, gently stirring continuously.|
|Reduce the heat to medium-low and cook the sauce for 10 minutes, stirring continuously, until thickened.|
Foolproof Homemade Caramel Sauce
Prep Time: 5
Cook Time: 25 min
Ingredients (makes 1 1/2 cups)
- 1/4 cup granulated sugar
- 1 cup light brown sugar, packed
- 1/2 cup purified water
- 4 Tablespoons unsalted butter, cubed
- 3/4 cup heavy cream
- 1/4 cup whole milk
- 3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- In the center of a medium stainless steel pot, add the sugars and slowly pour the water over the sugar; do not stir
- Cover the pot and heat over medium-low until the sugar is completely dissolved, stirring gently every 5 minutes
- In a 2-cup measure with a pour spout, stir together heavy cream, whole milk, salt and vanilla; set aside
- Once the sugar is completed dissolved, uncover the pot and raise the heat to medium-high; boil the syrup for 8 to 10 minutes, stirring occasionally with a wooden spoon, until the syrup turns a deep amber color and the surface remains foamy
- Add the cubed butter all at once; when the foaming subsides, stir the mixture gently until the butter is completely absorbed and the sauce begins to foam
- Add the cream mixture in 3 parts, stirring gently and allowing the sauce to thicken and foam between each addition of cream; after the final addition of cream, let the sauce foam for 4 minutes, gently stirring continuously
- Reduce the heat to medium low and simmer sauce for 10 minutes until the sauce is smooth and thickened, stirring gently but continuously
- Remove the sauce from the heat and serve immediately or cool and store in the refrigerator for up to 2 weeks
An original recipe by Javelin Warrior. © 2011 Javelin Warrior. All rights reserved.
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Hungry for Tips?
- Read First: Read the entire recipe before you start! Memorize it. Or at least be familiar with each step so you're not running trying to search for the next step while your sugar burns. Gather all your ingredients together before you begin, know what to expect and approach this caramel sauce with confidence.
- Brown Sugar: I use mostly brown sugar for my recipe because I like the depth of flavor and dark color of the final caramel sauce. But if you prefer the more traditional lighter amber caramel, swap out some or all of the brown sugar with granulated sugar. The flavor changes, but it's still delicious.
- Water: The addition of water creates a simple syrup with the sugar and reduces the likelihood of burning the sugar. That's a good thing if you can be patient enough to let the water steam away before the sugar finally caramelizes. If you're an experienced caramel maker, you can skip the water entirely and just melt the sugar in the pan.
- I recommend using a heavy-bottomed pan as it will help even out the heat distribution and avoid hot-spots in the sugar-melting process.
- Caramel sauce keeps for at least a week in the refrigerator but the sugar will gradually crystalize over time. Heating the sauce before using helps to eliminate some of these crystals.
- I use this sauce both as a topping/dip (e.g. ice cream, fruit, waffles, cheesecake, etc.) and as a base for other recipes like sticky buns. And sometimes I throw in spices like cinnamon at the end to punch up the flavor.