How to make Basic Caramel Sauce with variations

Caramel Sauce can be basic or flavored to keep it interesting, like salted, vanilla, or with a wine or whiskey base…all of them taste divine!

One sauce, many flavors

I like recipes that are bedrocks, yet can be manipulated to make many different version. With Caramel Sauce, you can flavor it with salt, vanilla, both salt & vanilla, or even use a spirit for a base…each will make a divine sauce!

Some examples for using caramel sauce would be…

  • drizzled onto tarts, cakes, or cookies
  • mixed into gelato for a salted swirl
  • as a sauce for bread pudding
  • poured onto ice cream
  • spooned directly into mouth (did I say that out loud?)

 

The most important step in the recipe is to be patient, vigilant, and stir, stir, stir after you’ve added the cream. After burning the sugar or having the sugar syrup seize on me in the past, I’ve learned to initially add a bit of water and a tablespoon of corn syrup to stabilize the mixture. Also, here I didn’t let me attention wander…the syrup can go from just lightly amber to a black mess in less than a couple of minutes. Be diligent and be warned! You can leave out the corn syrup if you’d like, however if the sugar crystalizes during the melting stage, add some water with 1-2 Tbsp corn syrup to resoften sugar crystals and recaramelize the syrup.

The basic caramel recipe is below. Using whiskey, wine, or bourbon as a base has a slightly different procedure…head here for that recipe. However you flavor it, you’ll be so glad that you took the time to create this caramel goodness.

 

salted caramel sauce ingredients
From these unpretentious ingredients comes caramel goodness

 

steps to caramelizing sugar for caramel sauce
The sugar goes from white to dark in about 10 minutes, and from dark to “get it off the heat!” in less than 2 minutes

 

salted caramel sauce in jar
The finished caramel sauce, cooling.

 

Whiskey Caramel Sauce in a jar
Caramel sauce makes a great gift as well!

 

You can share this caramel goodness with family and friends…it makes a great hostess gift. Don’t be shy about making and using Caramel Sauce…you’ll be glad you did!

Slainté! L’chaim! Cheers!

Tammy

salted caramel sauce in jar
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5 from 1 vote

Basic Caramel Sauce

Caramel Sauce can be basic or flavored to keep it interesting, like salted, vanilla, or with a wine or whiskey base...all of them taste divine!
Adapted from Sally's Baking Addiction
Prep Time2 mins
Active Time15 mins
Inactive Time1 hr
Total Time1 hr 17 mins
Course: Dessert
Cuisine: American
Keyword: Caramel, Caramel Sauce, Gelato, Ice Cream, Ice Cream Toppings, Sally's Baking Addiction
Author: Tammy Spencer, Scotch & Scones

Special Equipment

  • pastry brush
  • heatproof spatula

Ingredients

  • 1 cup sugar (7 oz, 200g)
  • 1 Tbsp corn syrup (0.75oz, 20g)
  • 3/4 cup heavy cream (6oz, 170g) warmed
  • 4 Tbsp butter (2 oz, 57g) salted (or unsalted, if you'd prefer)

Procedure

  • In a large saucepan, melt sugar and corn syrup with enough water to look like wet sand (about 1/4 cup), then bring to boil over medium heat until the caramel has a deep amber color (about 10-12 minutes). DO NOT STIR during this process, but wash down sides of saucepan with a wet pastry brush. Watch it carefully…the caramel will turn dark very quickly at the end!
  • Once deep amber color is reached, remove from heat and stir in butter (mixture will boil up, so STIR it to keep from bubbling over). Return to heat and stir the butter into the caramel until it is completely melted, about 2 minutes.
  • SLOWLY add the warmed cream, stirring constantly (mixture will boil up again). Allow the mixture to boil for 1 minute. It will rise in the pan as it boils, so keep stirring!
  • Remove from heat. Cool to room temperature before using (caramel thickens as it cools).
  • Cover any remaining caramel tightly and store for up to 1 month in the refrigerator. Reheat gently in the microwave or on the stove to desired consistency (and to keep it from separating)

Notes

Adding 1 Tbsp corn syrup stabilizes the caramel during browning. You can leave it out, however if the sugar crystalizes during the melting stage, add some water with 1-2 Tbsp corn syrup to resoften sugar crystals and recaramelize the syrup.
Similarly, adding water at the beginning keeps the sugar from burning if you're not careful. If you leave it out, the caramel will turn amber faster, but you have to be super diligent, swirling the sugar in the pan as it melts.
The sugar syrup can go from light amber to a black mess very quickly...keep an eye on it and remove from heat as soon as your desired color is reached.
Variations:
  • Salted Caramel Sauce: add 1 tsp salt after you remove the caramel from the heat.
  • Vanilla Caramel Sauce: add 1 tsp vanilla extract after you remove the caramel from the heat. 
  • Salted Vanilla Caramel Sauce: you guessed it...add both the salt and vanilla after removing from heat
  • Whiskey Caramel Sauce: take your caramel sauce to another level of flavor with this boozy version...you'll be glad you did!
 
Did you make this recipe? Please share your pictures with the world on your social media outlets, tag me at @scotch_scones (on Instagram, Pinterest, and Twitter) or @scotchandsconesblog (on Facebook), and use the hashtag #scotchandsconesblog. I can’t wait to see your creations!