Caramel is the backbone of caramel sauce, but it’s also ideal for coating nuts, fresh fruit, or the bottom of ramekins for Crème Caramel(pictured above) and other caramel-topped desserts. And it can add a touch of sweet and gooey to anything from cakes and tarts to brownies and ice creams. Contrary to what one might think, making Caramel Sauce at home is not too hard. It just needs some patience, and you need to stand hovering above the stove as sugar can go from Caramel to burnt in no time! I fell in love with the Caramel Apples over at Simply Recipes, so I thought I'd give the Basic Caramel Sauce a try. If you are someone who shares the fear of making Caramel at home, I hope this post helps you to don your apron and start cooking. its caramel time! [Photo credit: Wikimedia Commons]
I looked around at a few other Caramel recipes, and the one that worked was a combination from Ina Garten's recipe and the one at Epicurious. I'm also suggesting some delicious variations at the end, because everyone likes some change, and I am sure you will love these variations!
Yields 1 3/4 cup Sauce
1 1/2 cups sugar
1/3 cup water
1 1/4 to 1 1/2 cups heavy cream
1/2 vanilla extract
Fill a cup measure halfway with water and put a pastry brush in it; this will be used for washing down the sides of the pan to prevent crystallization.
Mix the water and sugar in a large heavy-bottomed saucepan. Cover and cook over low heat until the sugar dissolves. Increase the heat and boil uncovered until the sugar turns a medium brown, about 5 to 7 minutes, stirring occasionally with a wooden spoon.
Note: Watch it carefully at the end, as it will go from caramel to burnt caramel very quickly. Stand back to avoid splattering, and gradually add the cream and the vanilla extract. Simmer until the caramel dissolves and the sauce is smooth and thick, about 2 minutes.
Serve warm, or add another 1/4 cup of heavy cream and serve at room temperature.
Your basic Caramel Sauce is ready. You can pour it over your choice of dessert and enjoy!
Cinnamon Caramel Sauce: Add 1/2 teaspoon of ground cinnamon to the basic recipe above. This makes for a very flavorful sauce.
Coffee Caramel Sauce: Add 1 Tablespoon of freshly brewed coffee to the basic recipe above and cook as directed. Works great with ice creams and puddings.
Brandy or Bourbon Caramel Sauce: Add 1 Tablespoon brandy or bourbon to the basic recipe above and cook as directed. Perfect for Thanksgiving celebrations!
Orange-Cardamom Caramel Sauce: In a small saucepan, combine 1-1/2 cups fresh orange juice with 2 Tbs. plus 2 tsp. finely grated orange zest, bring to a boil, and cook until reduced to about 1/2 cup. Pour through a fine sieve, pressing against the zest to release all the liquid. Stir the strained, reduced orange juice and 4 tsp. ground cardamom into the cooled caramel sauce. A beautiful topping for Coffee Cakes and fruity desserts.
Hope you liked this Caramel Sauce recipe, and the suggested variations. Now go and get your Caramel Apples ready for Halloween this weekend!
For more Holiday inspiration, check out this article on Ideas & Themes for Halloween, and also a list of Easy Halloween Party Recipes