In my opinion, you can’t beat the taste of a rich luxurious caramel sauce. Many people shy away from making their own because they either feel it’s too difficult or you need specialist equipment, when in fact, as long as you get the technique right its quite a simple process.
The only tools you need are a saucepan, a wooden spoon or whisk and a jar or airtight container for the cooled caramel sauce. You can also use a sugar thermometer if you want to be extra cautious but if I’m honest I’ve never used one myself! You will also need a few simple ingredients – sugar, water, double cream, butter and vanilla extract.
It’s important when making caramel that all utensils and equipment are spotlessly clean and dry as this helps stop any form of crystallisation happening to the caramel sauce.
I opt for caster sugar when making caramel sauce as the sugar crystals dissolve quicker (you can also use granulated sugar but it may take slightly longer to dissolve). You can use golden caster sugar or light brown sugar but light brown sugar may take even longer to dissolve and it may also be a bit more difficult to spot when the sugar changes to the right colour.
A lot of caramel recipes call for just sugar and water, or sugar, water and cream as well as vanilla extract for an extra bit of sweetness but I like to add butter too as I feel it adds a bit more depth and richness to the sauce.
So let’s go…
Ingredients (makes about 250ml of caramel sauce)
240g caster sugar
90g unsalted butter (use salted butter for a salted caramel sauce)
150ml double cream (cream and butter should be at room temperature)
1tsp vanilla extract
Optional – 1tsp sea salt if making salted caramel sauce
1. Add the water then sugar to the saucepan and then on a medium heat leave to boil until the water starts to evaporate and the sugar turns a light brown amber colour. (Mine took about 9 minutes) It’s important to resist stirring the mixture as the sugar will crystalise. Swirl the mixture around in the saucepan gently once or twice to stop anything sticking.
2. Once the sugar turns a light brown amber colour, remove from the heat and add the butter, stirring quite vigorously to make sure its all incorporated. (The mixture will bubble a lot which is what you want and the water will start evaporating to leave the melted sugar syrup.)
3. Then add the double cream and vanilla to the mixture slowly while continuing to stir quickly. The mixture will froth up and bubble so take care as its extremely hot. (Then add the salt if you are making a salted caramel version).
4. Once you’ve stirred the sauce for a few minutes and are satisfied that everything is combined, leave to cool for a few minutes before transferring it to a jar or airtight container.
5. If you notice any little sugar crystals in the mixture, simply return to the stove on a low heat, stirring until they have dissolved and the mixture is smooth.
6. Leave to cool before enjoying. The sauce will thicken as it cools.
I have to be honest with you, when I first made my own caramel sauce I didn’t get it right but I persevered because I was determined to make my own and was so delighted with the results when I managed to grasp it. If you follow the steps above you should have no problems in making your own delicious homemade caramel sauce. Use it in cupcakes, cakes, brownies or just pour it over your favourite treats like ice cream or cheesecake (or if you’re anything like me simply enjoy from the jar with a spoon!)