One word of caution before you attempt to make this—hot sugar is really, really, really hot. Please, resist the urge to lick any spoon or spatula you use to stir the caramel. You will burn your tongue severely if you do this. I’m not kidding either. I have a 2 ½ inch scar on my left arm from molten sugar that spilled as I was turning out a dessert onto a plate about seven years ago. When I tried to wipe the extremely hot sugar off with the only thing I had at hand—a pot holder—all of the skin there went with it just as melted as the sugar. I beg of you—don’t lick or touch the hot sugar. It’ll be even more delicious once it’s cool—mostly because you’ll be able to taste it in relative comfort!
Along those lines, the photos for this post are exceptionally blurry and mostly blown out. This is because you really shouldn’t try to take photos yourself while you cook caramel. Maybe one day I’ll take pictures of someone else making it.
Adapted from Annie’s Eats: Vanilla Bean Caramel Sauce
1 cup granulated sugar
1 ¼ cup heavy cream, warmed
1 tsp butter
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/8 tsp salt
In a very heavy 3- quart sauce pan with super high sides, carefully melt sugar over medium-low heat.
Do not leave the sugar alone. Watch it. Carefully stir the sugar to ensure even melting—use a heat-proof spoon or spatula.
You may also gently swirl the pot, if necessary. The sugar may get clumpy, but it will even out.
When it is a pretty caramel color (more melted than this, but basically this color),
remove it from the heat and carefully add the cream. It will bubble and hiss like crazy—that’s why you have the really big pot. Now, Annie’s recipe didn’t call for the cream to be warmed, but if you dump cool cream into hot sugar, you get this: hard caramel candy. So, scald your cream (tiny bubbles on the outer edge when heated).
It’s salvageable—add the butter and salt, and put it back over low heat until you end up with caramel sauce instead of caramel candy with caramel milk on top.
Once it’s thickened sufficiently,
remove it from the heat, stir in the vanilla extract and salt, and pour it into a heat proof container.
If you’re making the Caramel Cake with Caramel Butter Cream Frosting, set it aside. Otherwise, you can pop it in the fridge to use later.
Yield: 1 ¼ cups sauce