Annika Eats

Salted Caramel Sauce

Silky and smooth bittersweet caramel sauce that is perfectly salted. It only uses 4 ingredients and pairs well with ice cream, desserts, drizzled over cakes and much more. Store it in jar for weeks and say goodbye to store bought caramel sauce. 

This recipe is a must have recipe. It comes under the basics category where everyone should know how to make it at home and you ought to have a recipe that is fool proof. Lucky for you, I have perfected this salted caramel sauce at home and since we are being candid here I am here to tell you, this is the only recipe you will need. I have tried and tested it over 10 times to get the precise consistency and flavor. 

So what is Caramel?

Caramel is made by heating sugar to a temperature of 170℃. As the sugar reaches this temperature, its composition will break down from a solid state into a liquid state. However it also changes in color, from a transparent liquid it turns pale yellow, from which it turns into the color of honey, then the color of an A grade Maple syrup which is a deep amber color and well…after this it will burn. As the color changes the flavor also develops. It is almost like magic.

This caramel can be used to make candy, sauces, fillings, spreads etc. However it is very important to keep in mind that while melting sugar down the temperature as mentioned is very high hence, do not think of touching the sugar or tasting the caramel even though it would smell very inviting. 

Caramel can be made by melting down sugar on its own (dry caramel) or, mixing it with water and then melting it down (wet caramel). Today we will use the wet caramel method. It does take a little longer but it also allows you to control the heating process with the addition of water. You can stir a dry caramel however when it comes to wet caramel you want to stir it only before it has touched the heat. Once it is on the stove, you can swirl it but no stirring. 

This recipe is not demanding, when I say this I mean it doesn’t take too much of your time or effort. What it requires is patience and undivided attention, not for a long time just for 10-15 mins. That’s how long the sauce takes to get done. The ingredients are basic; sugar, butter and cream. Since this is a salted caramel sauce, you need salt – I like to use sea salt flakes so it holds its structure and doesn’t entirely dissolve into the sauce. 

Since the recipe doesn’t require a lot of ingredients there aren’t many substitutes. In saying this lets talk about a few options that work: instead of the castor sugar you can use granulated white sugar, cane sugar and fine white sugar – the best sugar to use is white refined sugar for a proper caramelization. In place of unsalted butter you can use salted butter but be mindful of the salt you will add later, you can use margarine or shortening but it will change the taste. Ive also used a vegan butter like sunflower seed butter spread etc. which also work well. The cream ideally must be double cream/whipping cream – you can’t substitute this with anything else, this is what helps keep the caramel at a sauce consistency. 

There are some important pressure points you need to keep in mind and a few do’s and dont’s. If you keep them in mind you are on your way to making a silky smooth salted caramel sauce. 

Tips make the Perfect Salted Caramel Sauce

  1. Caramel is hot. I mean piping hot. So be mindful when handling the sugar. Do not touch it or taste it in anyway during the cooking process. 
  2. If this is your first time making it I would recommend keeping a bowl of ice cold water around incase you burn your hand or the caramel is burning. 
  3. Use a larger pot when making the sauce as it will bubble up when you add the cream so start with a larger pot. 
  4. Speaking of sauce pots, try to use a heavy bottom sauce pot which is flat so the heat distributes evenly while making the caramel sauce. You don’t need to use a nonstick sauce pot here. It would be preferable to avoid using a dark bottom sauce pot as you wouldn’t be able to tell the color of the sugar by looking at it. Do NOT USE A TIN-LINED COPPER PAN, it cannot hold the high temperature of the sugar and the lining will start to melt into your caramel making it inedible.
  5. You can use a wooden spatula to stir the caramel once the cream has been added or even a whisk.
  6. It goes without saying but I will mention this as common sense is not common, the pot needs to be clean. No grease or any other food particles should be in your sauce pot. 
  7. When making the caramel, stir the sugar and water together, OFF THE HEAT. Once you’ve combined the two, place on low to medium heat and DO NOT STIR AT ALL. You can swirl it around but that’s it. Let the heat do its job and melt the sugar down. The more you move it around the longer it will take. 
  8. Your sugar can crystallise if it has impurities in it or if it got agitated by stirring too much on the heat – which would depend on the brand of sugar you are using. If it starts to crystallize around the sides of the sauce pot, you can brush it down with a little water or cover the sauce pot with a lid, the steam condensation should help the crystals break down. 
  9. If you feel the sugar is getting darker in  color really fast and it might burn soon but all the sugar has not melted, there are a few things to keep in mind to avoid your sugar from burning: take it off the heat or reduce the heat down to low, keep a bowl of ice water near by and plunge the sauce pot into the water to cool down the sugar temperature immediately.
  10. However if you do burn the sugar there is no recovery from that unfortunately. You will have to start over in a fresh pan. 
  11. You are looking for a deep amber color in the caramelized sugar. Moments before it is about to burn, there will be steam coming up the sides of the sauce pot. 
  12. As you add the cream into the liquid caramel it will bubble up, so be careful and stir well. It will look like it’s not going to come together but it will.
  13. Keep in mind adding the cream, it must be at room temperature and you need to pour it a little at a time and stir with a spatula that has a long handle as there will be a lot of steam that will come up to your face. You can wear oven mitts if you like or use a kitchen towel to hold the spoon. 
  14. I like to keep the caramel on the heat for a few seconds after the cream has been added, take off the heat and stir until it’s not bubbling anymore. 
  15. The best way to clean up the sauce pot with the leftover caramel sauce is hot water, either pour hot water in the pot and leave it for an hour before washing, or pour water in the sauce pot, place it back on the heat and bring to a boil. Throw the water out and wash as usual. 

Once the Caramel Sauce is ready let it cool down completely before storing. Store it in a sealed glass jar at room temperature for up to 3 days. If you know you are going to keep it longer, store it in the fridge immediately for up to 3 weeks in a sealed glass jar. It will get thicker as it cools down hence it you want it extra runny, let it come to room temperature or warm it up in the microwave fro a few seconds. I wouldn’t recommend freezing the sauce you can make a fresh batch in little time with a few ingredients. 

You can serve it with coffee, milk, ice cream, whipped cream and fresh fruits, spread it over toast, pipe it over cupcakes or use it as filling for layered cakes. You can make my Pumpkin Spice Latte with Salted Caramel Recipe if you like.

Now that we have covered everything, let us make some Salted caramel sauce. Happy Cooking Ninjas!

Salted Caramel Sauce

Silky and smooth bittersweet caramel sauce that is perfectly salted. It only uses 4 ingredients and pairs well with ice cream, desserts, drizzled over cakes and much more. Store it in jar for weeks and say goodbye to store bought caramel sauce.
Cook Time 15 mins
Course Sweet tooth, tea time, Sauce
Cuisine French

Equipment

  • Heavy bottom sauce pot
  • Wooden spatula/Whisk
  • Glass jar

Ingredients
  

  • 1 cup Sugar
  • 5 tbsp Water
  • 3/4 cup Whipping cream room temperature
  • 2 tbsp Butter cold
  • Sea Salt Flakes as required

Optional:

  • 1 tsp Vanilla

Instructions
 

  • In a heavy bottom pan add the sugar and water. Stir together until the sugar looks like it has dissolved.
  • Place the pan on medium to low heat. Do not stir at this stage. Let it melt. The mixture will become translucent, you will see bubbles, the color will change and become a deep honey brown and it will start smelling like caramel. Do not touch the caramel.
  • Once it has reached an amber color around 4-5 mins, reduce the heat to the lowest option. Add the whipping cream little at a time and stir constantly, it will bubble up so be careful. Keep going until all the cream has been used.
  • Let it sit on the low heat for a min, take off the heat add the butter and stir together until combined.
  • Add a little salt and it will dissolve as the caramel is hot. Let it cool down completely before transferring.
  • Just before transferring season with salt again and pour into a glass jar. Use it as you like.

Notes

  • Read through The Tips before making the recipe to get a clear idea of some Do’s and Dont’s
  • I used castor sugar here you could use granulated sugar as well.
  • Do not stir the caramel once it is on the heat. Only when you add the whipping cream you can stir the mixture together.
  • While adding the cream a lot fo steam with come up to the surface so be careful.
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