February 20, 2003

Caramel Sauce

Several folks have sent in email asking how to make caramel sauce. It's easy, quick, and lots of people are impressed by it. It's also a great make-ahead part to a meal.

1) In a large (2.5-3 qt) heavy bottom sauce pan combine 1 C white sugar and enough water to moisten. You can use no water if you are used to this, or lots of water if you are new at it. More water will just take longer to cook out.

2) Place on medium heat until the sugar melts and begins to boil. Continue cooking until carmelization starts -- at this point, stir or swirl the pan to keep even browning happening. BE CAREFUL! Sugar is very hot and will stick to your skin, giving you a burn like no tomorrow.

3) When the amount of browning that you like has happened, turn off heat, add 1 C heavy cream with your hand WELL AWAY from the top of the pot. It will foam/boil/sputter like crazy. This is why you use a much larger pot than you think you will need.

4) When cooled down a bit, you can add a) flavorings b) more cream if you think it is too thick.

When cool enough to not melt plastic, pour into a plastic squeeze bottle. Caramel sauce keeps very well, on the counter for at least a week. The amount of sugar is so high that nothing really can grow in it, and the opening to the squeeze bottle assists here as well. To re-heat, simply place the squeeze bottle in a container of hot water (I usually use one of those 32 oz plastic cups you often get for free with Large Drink Purchase).

I usually take the sugar to a pretty dark brown, but you can adjust this to your liking. The sugar continues to cook a bit after adding the cream, so it will darken more, while the cream itself will lighten it. I find that the end color is about the same as when I added the cream, maybe just a tad darker.

Posted by dowdy at February 20, 2003 03:46 PM