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Homemade Caramel Sauce Recipe

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Stainless steel measuring cup filled with a cup of sugar.

Start your recipe with a cup of sugar.

Image © Kimberly Kunaniec

Caramel sauce is made by cooking sugar until it becomes dark and rich, and then adding cream to keep the mixture soft. Although it can take practice to learn how to make your own homemade caramel sauce, it is definitely worth the effort.

Most homemade caramel sauce recipes call for heavy cream, which produces a rich texture. However, this isn’t an ingredient that everyone has on hand at all times. If you want to make caramel sauce without running to the store, try this recipe which uses a combination of milk and butter to replace the cream.

Cook Time: 15 minutes

Total Time: 15 minutes

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 1 Tbsp. butter
  • Pinch of salt

Preparation:

  1. Combine the sugar and water in a small saucepan.
  2. Place the saucepan over medium-high heat and place a lid over the saucepan.
  3. Once the water has come to a rolling boil, remove the lid. Do not stir the caramel after this point.
  4. Cook the caramel until it is a golden brown color. If your caramel is cooking unevenly, you can gently swirl the pot to even out the sauce.
  5. Remove the pan from the heat and whisk in the butter. Once it has melted, gradually add in the milk and stir to combine. Be careful, because the milk could boil up quickly when it hits the hot caramel and changing the temperature too quickly could cause the caramel to separate.
  6. Return your caramel sauce to medium heat. Add the salt and stir the mixture until it is well combined. Boil for one minute until the sauce thickens slightly.
  7. Allow your caramel to cool and serve over your favorite frozen desserts or cakes.
Tips:
  • By covering the sugar and water with a tight-fitting lid, condensation will build up and run down the sides of the pot, cleaning off any sugar that may have collected there. You can also use a wet pastry brush to wash the sides of the pot. If you skip this step, crystals may form on the edges of your caramel, breaking the sauce.
  • Before the caramel starts to darken, the bubbles will slow down and the mixture will look thicker. This is when you should start keeping an eye on it. Caramel goes from light to dark very quickly, and burned sugar isn’t a good sauce. Once you can smell the sugar cooking, don’t walk away from the kitchen. At this point, I like to cover the pot one more time for one to two minutes, to ensure there won’t be any crystals.
  • Adding a pinch of salt to your caramel will actually make it sweeter, because the salt counteracts the bitter notes of a deeply caramelized sugar. However, you can always add more to make this a true salted caramel. Add 1/8 of a teaspoon for a gentle flavor, or 1/4 teaspoon for a bold salted caramel sauce flavor.
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