How to Make Salted Caramel Sauce
This salted caramel sauce is liquid gold as far as we’re concerned. Buttery, sweet caramel is better for a dash of salt, and not just because it hits us lovingly in that salty-sweet-fatty place. Salt transforms the flavor of the caramel, revealing all its toasty depth. So there’s that, and then there’s the sublime texture of the sauce. It falls from the spoon in a thick ribbon — satiny smooth and irresistible.
Salted caramel sauce is also very easy to make: it’s just five ingredients and a handful of steps. But if you’ve never made it before, we do have some advice to help you on your way. First, pay careful attention to the color of your sugar as it cooks. You don’t want it to burn, but it should be a rich amber color — that’s where all of the caramel’s nutty flavor comes from. Second, when you add the cream and butter, they’ll cool the caramel down, and you’ll see that it seizes a little — that’s the sugar trying to recrystalize. The trick is to make those additions slowly and whisk continuously until the caramel is smooth again.
Once you have a jar of salted caramel sauce, you’ll want to put it on everything. It’s a natural on ice cream, where it thickens into a chewy, gooey mass. It’s also wonderful drizzled on pancakes, baked into sticky buns, and swirled into dips (think Neufchâtel, hazelnuts, and cranberries).
1 cup sugar
¼ cup water
½ cup heavy cream
2 Tbsp salted butter
½ tsp salt
In a small heavy-bottomed pot, combine the sugar and water, and bring it to a simmer over medium heat, cooking until it’s amber in color, about 5 to 7 minutes. Watch the mixture closely, so it doesn’t burn.
Whisk the cream into the sugar mixture. Note: The sugar mixture will seize up until the cream and sugar get back up to temperature, so continue to whisk until the caramel is smooth.
Add the salted butter and salt, whisking until the caramel is smooth again.
Remove the caramel from the heat and transfer it to a heat-proof jar, allowing it to cool for about 5 minutes before using it.
Serve the caramel warm, or store it in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to two weeks. Refrigerated caramel sauce can be softened on the stove for a few minutes or in the microwave for about 45 seconds.