BASIC CARAMEL SAUCE
¾ cup white sugar
¼ cup water
½ cup heavy cream
1½ tablespoons unsalted butter
1. Add the water and sugar to a heavy bottomed saucepan. Cook over medium heat and stir until the sugar dissolves. When the mixture comes to a boil, stop stirring.
2. Cook to desired caramel color. Add butter and cream, taking care to avoid splatters as the mixture bubbles up.
3. Continue cooking and stirring until the caramel is smooth.
4. Allow the sauce to cool, and transfer to an airtight container. Store in the refrigerator for up to a week. The sauce can be reheated on the stove over medium-low heat or in a microwave.
Salted Caramel Sauce: make the sauce recipe above. When the mixture has cooled to a warm room temperature, stir in ¼ teaspoon coarse Kosher salt. Taste, and add more salt if desired.
Vanilla Caramel Sauce: make the sauce recipe above. When you remove the pan from the heat, stir in 1 teaspoon vanilla extract.
Coffee Caramel Sauce: while the sugar is cooking, stir 1 teaspoon of instant espresso powder into the cream and mix until dissolved. Proceed with the sauce recipe above. Instant espresso powder can be found in some grocery stores, specialty markets, and online.
- You can flavor caramel with just about anything: add liqueurs, fruit juices, or extracts. I made a pineapple caramel as a topping for upside-down cake, which I wrote about in my blog.
- Try making an apple cider caramel sauce for your next apple pie--you'll still need to add a thickener, like cornstarch or flour: toss the fruit with the flour and spice mixture, but use the sugar in the recipe to make a caramel sauce. Add two tablespoons of butter and a third of a cup of apple cider to the caramel in Step 5. Let it cool, and pour the sauce over the sliced apples. Toss gently and transfer the apple mixture to the crust-lined pie plate.