This is a good and helpful base recipe, and I thank Dessertlover for submitting it! I did tweak it as follows: omit the water, and instead add a heaping tablespoon of one of the following: Lyle's Golden Syrup (see note at end of this review), corn syrup, or honey. Cook the sugar and Lyles/corn syrup/honey together - with nothing else - until the desired color is reached. The darker you go, the more intense the flavor (stop before actually burning).
Replacing the water with a syrup does several things: it makes a thicker final product; it allows the sugar to get much darker and to also get darker faster; it REALLY helps to prevent unwanted crystallization. You can abuse this mixture quite a lot and still avoid crystals.
I add the cream, butter, salt and vanilla after the sugar + syrup mixture gets very dark amber. Then I reheat this final mixture to about 230 degrees F. This high temperature makes a thicker sauce. If you don't want it thicker, just reheat the final mixture to re-liquify it as per the original instructions.
About Lyle's Golden Syrup: I use this in place of corn syrup all the time. It is made from sugar instead of corn, and I am extremely allergic to corn. It is very similar in texture to corn syrup, but much better tasting - it has a light caramel taste, so it is perfect for making caramels. It is more expensive than corn syrup - about $5 - $6 for 11 ounces. And it is a bit hard to find (amazon does have it). But it lasts forever.
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This is a good and helpful base recipe, and I thank Dessertlover for submitting it! I did...