Salted caramel sauce is pure bliss. Don't believe me? You will after you taste this then. Caramel sauce is one of those items that many people avoid making at home, because they think it's way too difficult. Well trust me, it's not. If it was, I wouldn't make it either. But who knew, you could elevate something already delicious in it's own right like caramel sauce? Well, salted caramel sauce is caramel multiplied by 100. It is out of this world good. The flavor combination is amazing alone, but dip some chocolate in there and you have your own slice of heaven. I'm seriously not exaggerating here. If you don't think you like caramel, then you need make your own at home. It will turn you to a convert in no time.
Making caramel at home is not difficult, despite what some may have you believe. There are a few keys to success though. First, have all your ingredients at room temperature. Since we're using butter and heavy cream, it's important to make sure these ingredients are at room temp rather than being cold. Cold ingredients plus hot caramel equals a big no-no. Secondly, be prepared! (side note: that's one of my favorite Disney songs.) What I mean by being prepared is having all your ingredients not only measured out all the way, but to also have them all by your saucepan ready to go. I'm talking having everything near you. The pastry brush, whisk, rubber spatula, etc. Everything.You also want to prepare yourself by reading the recipe completely a few times and really understand the process before beginning. Thirdly, wet the sides. This is important step. If you don't wet the sides with your pastry brush throughout the process, you will have a grainy caramel. Consider that your first and only warning!
First, you want to use a heavy-bottom sauce pan and turn on the stove-top to medium heat. Combine the sugar and water in the saucepan. Ensure that the sugar is submerged in the water. Begin to cook the sugar, stirring constantly until the sugar is dissolved.
Once the sugar dissolves completely, leave the mixture alone on medium-high heat. Let it cook for anywhere from 5 to 13 minutes. During this cooking period, make sure you don't stir! Leave it alone. You should brush the sides with water from time to time though. This will ensure the sugars on the side won't crystallize and fall in your caramel.
Let it boil until it reaches a golden brown color. Don't take it off too early, even though you'll be tempted. Make sure to look at the bubble's color. Should be a golden brown nearly, instead of the light amber color. It will bubble. Don't worry about that.
Once the color is reached, take it off the heat and immediately drizzle in slowly, the heavy cream, while whisking constantly. This will cause the caramel to bubble, but that's normal. Whisk in the butter in pieces and whisk until fully incorporated. Whisk in the salt and then the vanilla.
Pour the caramel into a different bowl and let it cool slightly. Then move it to your storage container and cover for up to two weeks refrigerated. It will thicken as it cools. Re-heat by microwaving carefully or submerging a heat-proof container full of caramel into simmering water.
See how I do it:
- ¼ cup water
- 1 cup granulated sugar
- ⅔ cup heavy cream
- 3 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into tablespoon sized pieces
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
- 1 teaspoon salt or to taste
In a heavy-bottom saucepan, combine the water and sugar. Make sure the sugar is submerged in the water. Over medium heat, stir constantly with a rubber spatula or wooden spoon until the sugar is dissolved and the mixture begins to bubble. Make sure you use a slightly bigger saucepan than what you think you may need. Increase to a medium-high and leave it alone. Don't stir at this point at all. Make sure during this period, you brush the sides with water to ensure the sugar doesn't crystallize. Let the mixture boil until it reaches a nice golden brownish color. The darker the bubbles, the darker your end caramel will be. The lighter they are, the lighter your caramel will be. Once the proper color is achieved, remove from the heat and whisk in the heavy cream slowly. It will bubble up. That's normal. Just go slow and you'll be fine. Add in the butter in pieces and whisk in until fully incorporated. Whisk in the salt and then the vanilla. Pour the caramel sauce into a separate container to cool. It will thicken as it cools. Once cool enough, place in your squeeze bottle or plastic container to store. Store in the fridge for up to two weeks.
Adjust the salt to taste. What may be salty to me, may not be salty to you. Remember though, this is supposed to be a salted caramel sauce. It's important to keep in mind to not touch this mixture once the sugar has completely dissolved. Let it sit and do it's thing until it reaches an amber color. Slightly darker actually. Also, keep brushing the sides with water throughout the whole process, periodically. Lastly, be careful! Caramel is very hot and if you're not careful, you'll burn yourself. The only way to clean your pan, easily, is to add water to it and to bring it to a boil. That will cook off the remaining caramel in there and it will instantly pour out. Making it much easier to clean.