It’s the season for apples, cinnamon, pumpkin and all things autumn, and there’s really no better accompaniment for all those good things than a salted caramel sauce. It’s so versatile and adds another dimension to dessert with its more complex sweetness and buttery smoothness. Drizzle it over cheesecake or pie, swirl it into brownies, sandwich it between cake layers - there’s so much you can do!
This is a pretty basic recipe and there are a lot of little ways you can adjust it to your taste:
Heating the sugar longer or shorter results in a lighter or deeper flavor. If you cook it until a light amber, you’ll end up with a very light caramel. If you take it all the way to a dark amber, you’ll have a rich, deep flavor. Only be careful not to burn it…!
Add more salt for more of that sweet salty interplay, or hold back on the salt for a more direct flavor.
Add more vanilla for a Salted Caramel Sauce,
OR, add a splash liquor like bourbon or dark rum for a little of a boozy kick.
If you want a thinner caramel, use plain milk.
salted caramel sauce
makes about 1.5 cups
1 cup sugar
1/4 cup water
1/2 cup heavy cream
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into pieces
1 tsp vanilla
1/2 tsp vanilla bean paste (optional)
generous pinch of kosher salt
Combine the sugar and water in a medium sauce pan, making sure the sugar is evenly moistened.
Set the pan over medium heat and swirl gently to dissolve the sugar as you bring the mixture to a boil. Once boiling, leave it alone and let it cook until it is a deep amber brown. This took me about 10 minutes.
Slowly whisk in the cream. Be careful - it will sputter quite a bit! Continue to stir it down for about a minute or two. Remove from heat and stir in the butter pieces. Stir in the vanilla, vanilla bean paste (if using), and the pinch of salt.
Pour into a heatproof glass jar or bowl and let cool.