How to Make a Basic Caramel Sauce
If you have a sweet tooth and are hungering for a new cooking skill to add to your repertoire, homemade caramel sauce might be just the thing. Sweet, smooth caramel adds an instant boost of luxurious, richness to almost any dessert.
Caramel custard, dulce de leche, and more are all possible once you get the hang of this simple burnt sugar technique. There are two ways to make this sweet sauce: the dry method and the wet method. Because the dry method requires more practice to not overcook the sugar, we will focus on the wet method.
First add your sugar to a heavy sauce pan (half a cup of sugar will yield about one cup of sauce). Next, add just enough water to wet the sugar, giving it a wet sand texture. You can add a tablespoon of honey — the inverted sugar will help prevent the sugar from crystallizing. Next, cook the sugar/water/honey mixture on high, brushing away any splatter on the sides of the pan with a dampened pastry brush once or twice while cooking. Do not stir the sugar.
Color should begin to appear after six minutes. Once you see a caramel color appear, gently swirl the pan. Once the color is a beautiful amber color, slowly add room temperature cream to the pan (3/4 cup for every ½ cup of sugar). Stir constantly, the caramel will bubble. Remove the saucepan from the heat, and add the softened butter (half a stick per half a cup sugar). Stir to melt and incorporate the butter. Set aside the sauce to cool, and resist the urge to taste — your sauce will be way too hot to taste at this point.
For more caramel recipes you need to try, check out some of our picks on our Best Recipes page.
Angela Carlos is the Cook Editor at The Daily Meal. Find her on Twitter and tweet @angelaccarlos.