If I had to pick one staple to have in my fridge as autumn rolls in I would choose this salted caramel sauce. Euphoria ensues when paired with any apple concoction, but this sauce also doesn’t disappointment when drizzled over ice cream, brownies, cheesecake, waffles, pancakes, yogurt, chocolate-anything, bread pudding, brie and lots and lots of other things that you want to eat. Simply put, it’s a good thing to have around and it never lasts long in my kitchen.
Caramelizing sugar tends to make most cooks nervous. A certain amount of caution is a good thing (heating sugar can cause serious burns), but the technique of turning granulated sugar and water into flavored-packed amber goodness is quick and easy.
Contrary to popular belief no thermometer is necessary, but a saucepan with a light-colored bottom is essential equipment. When the caramel begins to brown, you’ll want to watch it closely and a light-colored pan allows you to see it changing shades. Dark pans, with black or dark gray bottoms, make this important step much more difficult, if not impossible.
Your undivided attention is another important requirement; like toasting nuts, when the cook gets distracted both will burn.
The trickiest aspect of making caramel is deciding when to add the heavy cream. Once added, the caramelizing process stops so you want to add it when flavor is at its peak. If you add too early, your sauce will be too mild, too late and you get a taste redolent of burnt s’mores. Don’t fret too much. It’s a learning process and, fortunately, a delicious one. I’ve had caramel sauces that I’ve liked better than others, but I’ve never thrown one out…ever. Cheers to sweet endings!
Salted Caramel Sauce – Printer Friendly Recipe
Makes about 2 cups
This sauce will last up to a week in your refrigerator, but you’ll have to exercise self-restraint. It does thicken as it cools so warm before serving in a saucepan over low heat or in a microwave.
1 cup granulated sugar
½ cup water
1 cup heavy cream, at room temperature
¾ teaspoon to 1 teaspoon kosher salt
Combine the sugar and water in a light-colored, heavy-bottomed saucepan. Bring to a boil and let cook, without stirring, until the sugar begins to turn golden.
Watch the caramel closely at this point. If you add the cream when the color is light golden, the caramel will be milder; if you add when the caramel is a deep amber or mahogany, you’ll have deeper flavor. Don’t wait too long however as sugar goes from just right to burned quickly.
When the sugar has caramelized to your liking, carefully add the heavy cream. Use caution as the mixture will bubble and splutter. Whisk until smooth and remove the sauce from the heat. Whisk in the salt and adjust according to your tastes.
Don’t worry if the sauce appears to thin. It will thicken upon standing.