HOMEMADE SALTED CARAMEL SAUCE
- 1 cup granulated sugar
- 1/4 cup water
- 1 tbsp light-colored corn syrup (can be omitted but helps reduce crystallization)
- 1/2 cup whipping or heavy cream
- 1 tbsp vanilla extract, optional (or substitute with bourbon, rum, Grand Marnier, or a favorite liqueur)
- 1/2 to 1 tbsp salt, optional and to taste (for a true ‘salted caramel’ sauce, I use 1 teaspoon)
In a medium to large saucepan (use a pan much larger than you think you’ll need because the sauce will bubble very vigorously at the end), add the sugar, water, corn syrup and bring to a boil over high heat, whisking until sugar has dissolved.
Allow the mixture to boil for 5 to 12 minutes, or as necessary, for it to turn caramel-colored, at which point it will likely be smoking slightly. The final stage where the mixture turns from pale amber to that perfect shade of caramel can go quickly, in less than 30 seconds, so keep a watchful eye and don’t let it burn. Super stinky and you’ll have to start over. Throughout the boiling time, you can swirl the pan gently every minute or two if necessary, but the less the sugary mixture gets on the sides of the pan, the better in preventing crystallization in the final sauce.
As soon as the sauce has turned caramel-colored, reduce the heat to low.
Very carefully and slowly, add the cream. Stand back because mixture will bubble up considerably.
Optionally, and very carefully, add the vanilla and salt, to taste. Stand back because mixture will bubble up again.
Whisk until sauce is smooth and combined, and let it boil another 1 minute, which helps thicken it up.
Transfer sauce to glass jar or heat-safe container (easiest to pour into a 2-cup measuring cup and then easily pour into glass jar). Allow sauce to cool uncovered to room temperature; sauce thickens considerably as it cools. Sauce will keep airtight at room temp for at least 1 month, although will likely last much longer; use common sense if giving as gifts with storage considerations.