This Easy Caramel Sauce recipe makes a deliciously smooth and luscious caramel sauce that you just can't get enough of with perfect texture and perfect flavor. It's pure caramel deliciousness with specks of vanilla bean - the best I've ever had!
This easy to make caramel sauce is pure and simple with only 5 ingredients: sugar, cream, water, vanilla, and salt. Homemade Caramel Sauce can be intimidating, but it needn't be. No thermometer is necessary as judging by the color will give excellent results. Heat the sugar to your desired intensity, from pale honey to deep amber or anywhere in between. If you like a mild caramel sauce, heat the sugar to a pale, honey color. If you like a stronger, more bitter caramel flavor, heat the sugar to a deep amber.
If using a vanilla bean, scrape the seeds out and put the seeds and the pod into the sugar before boiling to extract the maximum flavor. Heat the cream gently and be careful that a skin doesn't form on the top. The caramel will have lumps in it. I usually wait to start heating it midway through the boiling of the sugar. Add the hot cream little by little to the boiling caramel. It will bubble up and overflow.
- ½ cup water (4oz, 115 g)
- 1 cup sugar (7oz, 198g)
- 1 cup heavy cream (8 oz, 225g)
- ⅛ teaspoon salt
- ¼ vanilla bean or ½ teaspoon vanilla
- Split open the ¼ vanilla bean and scrape out the seeds.
- Combine water, sugar, salt, and vanilla bean seeds and pod in a 3-quart saucepan over medium heat.
- Stir the syrup until it comes to a boil.
- Continue cooking until the syrup is a light golden color, swirling the pan for even caramelization.
- Once the caramel is a light golden color, lower the heat and cook until the caramel is a light amber color.
- While syrup is cooking, bring cream and salt to a simmer in a small saucepan.
- When the caramel is a light amber color, turn off the heat and pour one fourth of the hot cream into the caramel. The caramel will bubble vigorously. When the bubbling slows, add the remaining cream.
- If you're using vanilla extract, add it in now with the cream.
- Let caramel sauce cool to room temperature.
- Refrigerate for several weeks in an airtight container.
Once the caramel begins to color, it can darken very quickly. Be ready with your hot cream so that as soon as the sugar syrup reaches your desired color, you can begin adding it. The caramel will not continue to darken after the cream is added.
Caramel sauce is non-crystalline so it's not necessary to brush down the sides of the pan with a wet brush. However, if I notice that the little specks on the side of the pan start to brown before the sugar syrup, I wash them down with a wet brush before they burn and affect the flavor of the caramel.