how to make caramelCaramel and I have a long history.  I want to be good at making it and it just wants to keep bringing me down.  I have scars on my arms from caramel attempts gone wrong to prove it.  There was this tart on the cover of Saveur magazine that almost killed me.  It was a salted caramel tart in a chocolate base with a ganache topping.  It took 3 tries to get it right, 1 sauce pan casualty, and one serious burn.  But I was determined to get it right.  The thing that I discovered that I was doing wrong was not trusting my instincts.  Like in life, you need to trust yourself to know that you know what you are doing.  I did not trust myself to know that maybe my thermometer was not calibrated anymore, or maybe there was a misprint in the recipe.  Finally on the third attempt I threw the thermometer out and just watched for the signs from the stove that the sugar was ready.  You need to trust your senses.  Does the color look right?  What does it smell like?

After a few more attempts at making caramel for different things, I am no longer afraid.  The worst thing that can happen is that I am out of a cup of sugar and I need to start over.  My new outlook on caramel has made making caramel an enjoyable experience instead of one where I felt like my domestic prowess was being judged.  I have learned a few things that I will share with you though.

1.  Have everything out and ready to go.  Keep a cup of water and a pastry brush next to the stove.  You can brush the sides of the pan with water if crystals start to form.  Measure out your cream and have the vanilla out.

2.  Once the sugar starts bubbling, do not walk away from it.  Do not check email or go fold a load of laundry, you really need to keep an eye on it.

3. Do not stir the sugar.  Once dissolved if you stir the sugar it will form crystals up the side of the pan.  While a cool science experiment, it is not something that you want when you want a smooth and rich caramel sauce.

how to make caramel sauce1 1/2 cups sugar
1/3 cup water
1 1/4 cups heavy cream
1/2 teaspoon vanilla

how to make caramelPut the sugar into a sauce pan.

how to make caramel sauceCover the pan with the water.  Cook the sugar and water over medium heat.

how to make caramel sauceBring the sugar to a boil.  Have your cream and everything ready to go.

how to make caramel sauceWhen it starts to get to this stage, keep a close eye on it.  This takes about 10 minutes.

how to make caramel sauceWhen it turns a dark golden amber color (350 on a candy thermometer, but who needs one of those?) you are ready to pour in the cream.

caramel sauce recipeIt is going to bubble like crazy.  Just keep whisking and it will all come together.

caramel sauce recipeSee, I told you so.  Just like magic.

how to make caramelAdd the vanilla off of the heat.

how to make caramel sauceAllow the caramel to come to room temperature.  It will thicken up as it sits.  Keep it in the fridge.

caramel sauce recipesOnce you eat homemade caramel sauce, it will be hard to eat the kind from a jar.  It is so smooth and rich and has that caramelized taste that is like none other.

homemade caramel sauce recipeRemember the chocolate ice cream that I made the other day?  This sauce just might be amazing on it.  With some crushed up pretzels.  Oh. My. God.

Caramel Sauce

Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 cups sugar
  • 1/3 cup water
  • 1 1/4 cups heavy cream
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla

Instructions

  1. Put the sugar into a sauce pan. Cover the pan with the water. Cook the sugar and water over medium heat.
  2. Bring the sugar to a boil. Have your cream and everything ready to go.
  3. When it starts to get to this stage, keep a close eye on it. This takes about 10 minutes.
  4. When it turns a dark golden amber color (350 on a candy thermometer, but who needs one of those?) you are ready to pour in the cream. It is going to bubble like crazy. Just keep whisking and it will all come together.
  5. Add the vanilla off of the heat. Allow the caramel to come to room temperature. It will thicken up as it sits. Keep it in the fridge.
http://bakedbree.com/caramel-sauce

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133 Responses to Caramel Sauce

  1. Carolyn says:

    Hello!
    I just made some caramel and it seems pretty runny. It’s pretty much cool now, but still runny. How should I fix this?

    • bakedbree says:

      You really can’t. My guess is that your sugar was not cooked enough.

    • Linnea says:

      I had the same problem, because my sugar was undercooked. I just made another batch of sugar and just instead of using new amount of heavy cream I just used the runny caramel stuff and it all turned out great (though a little sweeter).

  2. April says:

    Bree, will this recipe work in a chocolate fountain? For my daughters graduation reception I want to have a chocolate and caramel fountain. Thanks. Looking forward to trying it whether it works in the fountain or not.
    April

    • bakedbree says:

      I really do not know. You would have to make several batches to have enough for a fountain. I am not sure how much a fountain holds, but if I was going to add caramel, I would do it in a fondue pot on the lowest possible heat.

  3. Jasmine says:

    sauce was good, mine curded when i added the cream… so i waited till it was warm and put in blender… tasted really good, was on the runny side, but guessing it will firm up when goes in the fridge…. another trick is to wait after you remove pan from stove, wait till the caramel has gone down in temperature or just pour the cream in small quantities, otherwise it might curd, like mine, but even so, you can always put in blender in case it curds… wont affect the marvelous taste…

  4. Jenine says:

    I tried doing a reduction the other day and when I added the wine to the sugar it blew up in my face. You should really tell people to heat up the cream in the recipe, before adding it to the sugar otherwise they will have the same reaction and this can cause some serious burns. I don’t understand why this is not stated in more recipes.

  5. fMary says:

    Can I substitute heavy cream with full cream milk?

  6. Shanneen says:

    Hi, this sauce looks amazing and I’m pretty okay at making caramel but mine tends to get hard in the fridge and I’d like to keep it pretty thick but still runny, could you please advise more on the viscosity of this and if in the freezer it’ll harden slightly but still be able to bite through?

    Thanks in advance,
    Shanneen

  7. Joseph says:

    About how long do you keep it on the heat once you pour in the cream and are whisking? My caramel came out pretty well but I think I may have cooked it too long.

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