Making homemade caramel sauce uses 4 ingredients you probably already have on hand and takes no more than 10 minutes. This simple and easy recipe will have you drizzling caramel on anything from breakfast pancakes, pound cake, to vanilla ice cream.
In a heavy-bottom deep saucepan, add the sugar, water, and corn syrup.Tip - corn syrup prevent crystalization, you can also use 1 tsp lemon juice
With the heat on medium bring the sugar to a boil. Shake the pan slowly guiding the distribution of heat. DO NOT STIRTip - we avoid stirring to prevent crystalization of sugar.
The sugar will melt with big bubbles on the top. Continue to heat shaking the pan to encourage even coloring and prevent the sugar from burning.
As the bubbles get smaller the color of the sugar starts to turn amber. Tip- it is important to keep the heat to medium or medium-low to prevent burning. We want a caramelized sugar, not burnt sugar.
The sugar should now be a deep amber color. Add the butter followed by the cream. Take it off the heat so it does not over-flow or overheats in the pan Tip - the caramel will rise at this point, that's normal hence the deep saucepan.
Add the vanilla extract and salt. Tip - for salted caramel, you can add more salt over the cooled sauce later.
Cool for a few minutes in the pan then pours into a mason jar or storage bowl.Tip- caramel is very hot so it's best not to pour it immediately into glass storage to prevent cracking.
The sauce will thicken as it cools.
Consistency is Key for Caramel Sauce
The consistency at which you remove the caramel sauce from the heat depends on what you want to use it for. An important thing to remember is the sauce will thicken as it cools.
Pouring sauce - If you want to drizzle the sauce over desserts, such as pies and ice creams, it's best to take it off the heat about a minute after you add the cream similar to what I did in the video
As an ingredient - If you need to use it as one of the ingredients - like buttercream or tart filling - it's best to have it a bit thicker. I cook it for about 2 minutes more after adding the cream.
Toffee consistency - If you cook the sauce for a good 5 to 6 minutes after adding the cream - the sauce will be thicker and more intense. Then, pour it into a lined and greased baking tray. And when almost cool - cut into square or roll into balls.
Grainy caramel - If the sugar is not dissolved properly the caramel will be grainy. So it's best to keep the heat low and let the sugar dissolved and caramelize slowly. Alternatively, graininess can also happen when undissolved sugar falls back into the syrup while it is boiling. This recipe uses light corn syrup to prevent crystallization.
Separated caramel - low-fat cream or overheating can cause separation. Take it off the heat and continuously keep stirring until it becomes homogenous again. You can also place it over a bowl of cold water to cool it quickly.
Runny caramel - high-moisture butter, low-fat cream are usually the culprit. Place it back on the heat and let the liquid evaporate. The sauce will thicken as you heat the mixture. Take note that it will thicken considerably as it cools as well.