The Best Caramel Sauce Recipe

November 10, 2011

A few days ago, when we were checking-out at the super market, I noticed that my husband (it still feels a bit weird calling him that) slipped in a bottle of caramel sauce, which actually was nothing more than an overdose of corn syrup with artificial vanilla and half a dozen chemicals. If that weren’t bad enough, he paid €6.50 for it!

That bottle of fake caramel struck a nerve. I couldn’t stand watching him drizzle that god-awful sauce over a gorgeous triple chocolate mousse cake he and a good friend made for my birthday (l’m one lucky girl). Sacrilege.  So I made caramel sauce with farm fresh butter and Maldon sea salt.

I quickly read up on tips laid down by David Lebovitz  on making the perfect caramel and within minutes I had my caramel sauce. Deep amber, thick, unctuous salted caramel sauce. The best. Ever.

Here’s a tip: When adding salt, you can add a part of it while the sauce is warm so it flavors the entire sauce evenly as it melts in, and then some more once the sauce has cooled and thickened so as to enjoy a bit of the salty crunch. Also remember, making caramel is a very quick process – you can’t step away from the pan of sugar even for a bit!

After I was done eating the sauce as if it were soup, I made myself an apple tart with puff pastry and Canada apples I bought from the farm.  Nothing too elaborate;  just puff pastry topped with thin slices of apples sprinkled with a bit of cinnamon sugar (just a bit – we want the sweetness from the salted caramel sauce later) and baked at 200ºC/400ºF until the pastry was golden brown.

Salted caramel sauce drizzled on the apple tart: heaven at home.

Salted Caramel Sauce

Salted Caramel Sauce Recipe


200g white sugar
90g  unsalted butter (the best you can get your hands on)
120g cup cream (double cream, preferably)
1 tsp (or more) Maldon Sea Salt or Fleur de Sel

Add the sugar in a thick bottomed pan and cook it till it melts. Keep swirling the pan so that the sugar can cook evenly.
Once the sugar has reached a deep brown colour, pull it off the heat and add all the butter. It will foam up, so make sure you’re using a pan with high sides. Stir until it’s completely melted into the sugar.
Next, pour in the cream (more foaming) and whisk in until you have a consistent sauce.
Stir in half the salt. Let it cool completely. Stir in the remaining salt. Bottle it.
Serve it on a cake, in a cake, over ice-cream, tarts, crumbles, pancakes, brownies, waffles, toast, granola. Everything.
Store in refrigerator for upto two weeks.


11th January: I made the caramel sauce again for a cake. This time, using salted Bordier butter. Turns out that this batch had a slight bitter taste that a bunch of you have written about in the comments. That’s our answer! For making this caramel sauce we must stick to using unsalted butter in case we want to avoid that bitter taste. Just for this recipe, Bombay folks, bite the bullet and spend a little extra on unsalted President butter available in most supermarkets. You will be hooked. I promise.

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  • Reply Hima November 10, 2011 at 10:37 AM

    Yum yum…..actually it is that easy is what I felt when i read the recipe while reading David’s book. Ofcourse it is a bit of a process to find double cream so I was happy Amul what is easily available.
    Cheers licking…..

  • Reply Isha November 10, 2011 at 10:48 AM

    How come Salt is added to a caramel sauce? I thot it’s supposed to taste sweet!

    • Reply The Purple Foodie November 10, 2011 at 10:50 AM

      To balance out the cloying sweetness. Adding salt will change your world. I promise. I had the most delicious salted caramel ice cream here in Paris and I’m a convert.

  • Reply Sara November 10, 2011 at 11:11 AM

    Do I need to refrigerate this? And, how long will it keep?

  • Reply Amie November 10, 2011 at 11:16 AM

    Ok to add regular salt?

  • Reply Priya November 10, 2011 at 11:34 AM

    Would love to enjoy with a simple bowl of fruit salad, delicious sauce..

  • Reply Jen @ Savory Simple November 10, 2011 at 3:49 PM

    David Lebowitz is so amazing, isn’t he? I also learned a lot from that article. And I absolutely love any dessert with salted caramel.

  • Reply Rachel @ Baked by Rachel November 10, 2011 at 4:35 PM

    Yes please!! I wish I had some right now and it’s not even lunch :)

  • Reply carnalis November 10, 2011 at 4:53 PM

    As soon as i saw your link via twitter I knew this would brighten up my day. I just made the first batch with my boy after school and it is rich and sweet and very moreish (I let the sugar catch ever so slightly by mistake so there is a strong caramel hit that is too sophisticated for the younger boys).. i used my vanilla sugar and cornish sea salt and we will pour it over vanilla ice cream at teatime.

  • Reply The Doux Project November 10, 2011 at 7:12 PM

    So, you living in Paris is working out so well for us ;)

    I love caramel sauce! Thank you for posting this!

  • Reply The Doux Project November 10, 2011 at 7:14 PM

    Oh, how much does this make?

    • Reply The Purple Foodie November 11, 2011 at 1:26 AM

      I think it was about 300ml. Can’t be sure because I ate up a lot straight from the pan.

  • Reply Poonam November 10, 2011 at 7:06 PM

    Hey! Iv been thinking of caramel sauce for days now! So glad you posted a recipe. Will make soon :-)

  • Reply Arjun November 10, 2011 at 9:26 PM

    The caramel sauce was obviously much better (and cheaper) than the Hershey’s sauce, which is also good, but who am I to complain – I’m in a win-win situation. I get Hershey’s caramel so my wife get’s jealous and makes more caramel. Now that’s life!

    – The Husband.

  • Reply Tish November 11, 2011 at 4:43 AM

    How is it that you don’t put on weight with all this that you bake and am sure occasionally eat? Everything on your blog is beautiful and you are obviously very talented but I wouldn’t touch it with a barge pole.

  • Reply Shweta November 11, 2011 at 4:57 AM

    Please start blogging about photography tips soon…your photos are spectacular

  • Reply vandana November 13, 2011 at 3:56 PM

    hey, can i have details of your baking class?

    • Reply The Purple Foodie November 14, 2011 at 5:23 PM

      I’ve moved to Paris for a bit. Will let you know when I’m back in Bombay conducting classes.

  • Reply the food dude November 15, 2011 at 3:25 PM

    Man, I just discovered the magic of salt on chocolate milk after watching an episode of Modern Family. I’m pretty sure this salted caramel tastes awesome!

  • Reply Meenakshi November 16, 2011 at 8:49 AM

    Hey Shaheen does the caramel sauce solidify if you keep it in the fridge? I tried making caramel sauce once and it turned brittle and glassy like candy. I shall use double cream like you have advised! Looks great.

    • Reply The Purple Foodie November 16, 2011 at 8:54 AM

      Just warm it up a bit or let the jar sit in hot water for 10 minutes.

  • Reply Quince Crumble | The Purple Foodie November 16, 2011 at 10:02 AM

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  • Reply Culinary Collage November 16, 2011 at 3:41 PM

    Wow…..looks great! There are so many things that you could serve this with……yummy!

  • Reply Sarita November 16, 2011 at 4:47 PM

    Made this sauce today after hours of absolute boredom! It just transformed the mood! And the colour of my sauce is like yours! Yayy! :D

  • Reply Dina November 17, 2011 at 7:03 PM

    this sounds wonderful and you can use it on so many things. i am thinking of vanilla ice cream!

  • Reply Rachel November 19, 2011 at 1:49 AM

    If we weren’t doing a lot of dairy free due to a milk intolerance in the family I would be making it right now. Looks delicious. For now, I will live vicariously.

  • Reply judy November 19, 2011 at 6:13 PM

    Does anyone have this recipe based on volume,
    I do not have a food scale. Thank you

  • Reply Steph November 26, 2011 at 10:28 PM

    Will this sauce hold layers of cake together?

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  • Reply Subhadra November 30, 2011 at 4:51 AM

    Hei Shaheen, I tried the caramel sauce and some of the cream and the butter turned to ghee when added into the hot caramel. It tastes good, but still has a ghee smell, which I don’t like. Is that expected? Any idea how I can avoid it?

    • Reply The Purple Foodie November 30, 2011 at 2:30 PM

      Yikes, that’s odd. Did you take it off the heat when you added the butter and cream? Maybe add cold butter so it doesn’t split?

  • Reply Subhadra November 30, 2011 at 4:31 PM

    Let me try cold butter next time. Thanks :)

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  • Reply Smitha December 6, 2011 at 9:32 AM

    I just made the sauce yesterday and I found it yummy. However, I’m not sure if I burnt the sauce (I dint see it burning) as there is a slight bitter after taste. Is it supposed be like this or have I burnt it?

  • Reply Meenakshi December 7, 2011 at 6:51 AM

    My caramel sauce follows Smitha’s…I made it and there was a slightly bitter aftertaste. Not bad, just a little bitter. Is that supposed to be there? (Either way I managed to polish it off with a little help!)

  • Reply The Purple Foodie December 7, 2011 at 7:31 PM

    It’s not supposed to taste burnt/overtly bitter. The sugar continues to cook even after you’ve pulled it off the heat – that’s probably why.

  • Reply Charul Ajmera December 8, 2011 at 2:24 PM

    Can I avoid salt if I am using salted butter (most probably I would be using Amul)?

  • Reply The Purple Foodie December 8, 2011 at 2:55 PM

    You can. If I were using Amul, I’d still add the salt because I love how the sweet and salty flavours work together so beautifully.

  • Reply Claire December 11, 2011 at 1:40 AM

    As soon as I took the melted butter off the stove And tried to swirl in the butter and then cream, the sugar solidified completely and turned into big rocks. What did I do wrong??

    • Reply The Purple Foodie December 11, 2011 at 2:18 AM

      ‘Took the melted butter off the stove and tried to swirl in the butter and then the cream’ I don’t understand.

  • Reply Claire December 12, 2011 at 4:05 AM

    Whoops, I meant “melted sugar.” I’m guessing the I didn’t use a heavy saucepan so it didn’t retain the heat to keep the melted sugar gooey. I ended up firing up the heat again while stirring in the butter & then cream and then picking out the chunks of sugar rocks. It was still pretty tasty! Thx!

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  • Reply Parul December 27, 2011 at 9:48 AM

    I tried making the caramel sauce a few days back and my first attempt looked exactly like what yours looked like in the photo, except that my sauce too had a slight bitter after taste (and I’m sure I didn’t burn the sugar… I was watching the pan VERY VERY closely). I had used salted butter (Amul, as that was what I had at hand, Amul Cream and regular table salt as I didn’t have sea salt and/or Heavy cream available) The sauce was delicious despite the bitter after taste and was consumed with great speed.
    I decided to make the sauce again yesterday, but this time the only thing I did change was the butter. I went out and bought the best quality french unsalted butter that I could lay my hands on. And this time, there was no bitter aftertaste to my caramel sauce at all. All the other ingredients remained the same (still used Amul cream and salt) so I don’t know if the butter is the answer to the bitter after-taste mystery… I just thought I’d add my two bits..

  • Reply Parul January 1, 2012 at 5:29 PM

    :) You’re very welcome!! All though in all honesty, I don’t know if I did really demystify anything… I just faithfully reported what happened in my kitchen..
    The sauce is super addictive though… Thank you for sharing. Your blog is one of the most joyful places on the internet…

  • Reply Kiran January 11, 2012 at 5:58 PM

    I am totally with you about the packaged sauces! Not caramel sauce in our case, but nutella (my worst nemesis), chutneys, ketchup, jams ….. I am on a make-my-own jag, and this caramel sauce will be part of it! :)

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  • Reply Jun January 20, 2012 at 4:18 AM

    I tried to make the caramel sauce with your recipe, step 1 and 2 worked perfectly enough, however when I pour in the cream to the melted sugar the sugar became firm and crystalise, then I know that my sauce was failed. The cream I used was kept in fridge when I want to use it I just take out from fridge. Is it the temperature for the cream too low? Or need to preheat the cream before pour the cream into the melted sugar?

    • Reply The Purple Foodie January 24, 2012 at 11:10 PM

      Hi Jun, I’m not entirely sure. I’ve used cream from the fridge as well as cream at room temperature. Same goes for butter.

  • Reply Madhu February 3, 2012 at 7:06 AM

    Where does one get the Maldon Sea Salt in Del ?

    • Reply The Purple Foodie February 15, 2012 at 1:03 AM

      I’m sorry, I don’t know where, I got mine from London. You can use Fleur de Sel as well.

  • Reply Ruchira March 28, 2012 at 5:40 PM

    does anything more need to be said? Loved it !

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  • Reply Sneha April 14, 2012 at 9:26 AM

    Read the dilemma about the bitter butter taste – so I made butter at home – fresh unsalted butter. Sauce turned out beautifully – it helped that I wore a pair of oven mitts while stirring in the butter & cream.
    To address Madhu’s query – Maldon/Fleur de sel are available at Modern Bazaar (have seen them in Gurgaon, atleast)

  • Reply Laura May 2, 2012 at 1:57 PM

    have just whipped up some too and it so delicious. I used a different base, cream in fact – so its a different recipe altogether and terribly simple

    I paired it Im afraid with hot chocolate sauce… wicked!

  • Reply stefff May 6, 2012 at 10:02 AM

    this recipe sounds really tasty and was just wondering if you could freeze this sauce? thanks

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  • Reply Khushnaz May 11, 2012 at 12:45 PM

    Yummy! Just made some, and it’s cooling in the fridge. Consistency seems to be a bit runny at the moment, but I guess it’ll thicken as it cools. Can’t wait to try some on ice-cream :-)

    Thanks for the recipe

  • Reply caterpillar June 7, 2012 at 1:08 AM

    I made my first bowl of caramel sauce today. Tastes yum….couldn’t stop licking the ladle…thanks a ton for putting up this recipe…. :)

  • Reply vinay June 7, 2012 at 1:43 PM

    BTW, D you have any eggless cake recipes?

  • Reply Pooja July 20, 2012 at 9:58 AM

    I tried this sauce…… It tastes nice bt somethg went wrong…da sauce was light, I heated the sugar till it was golden brown. One thg I did was I used melted white butter n then the sugar became like a toffee and refused to melt. So I removed the toffee bit(guess the color went wrong because I had to remove da toffee)…….can u plz guide me as to what I could do differently.
    Thnks for the simple recipe though. Real good stuff:)

  • Reply Aanchal July 23, 2012 at 4:54 PM

    Amul fresh cream?

  • Reply ifra July 28, 2012 at 5:12 AM

    hello,i tried making this, i crystalized the sugar, as soon i added the chilled butter. the sugar crystalized and the butter melted and seperated..i dono what went wrong…plz help

  • Reply ifra July 28, 2012 at 5:13 AM

    hello,i tried making this, i crystalized the sugar, as soon i added the chilled butter. the sugar crystalized and the butter melted and seperated.

  • Reply Ernie August 15, 2012 at 3:24 AM

    Hi! Thanks from the recipe! Tried it the first time and it came out awesome, I just followed th directions precisely didn’t have a thermometer so I just waited. For that dark ambar color and it came out great. Been mixing it with everything I find! The sea salt gave it a nice touch! Thanks again for the recipe, any other good recipes you can share?

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  • Reply ame September 25, 2012 at 4:22 AM

    well, I should say I was too late reading on this georgeous recipe…I made a caramel melt and got stuck in the pan this morning…cook it all over again with some milk and added sugar…it supposed to be a little bit ‘saved’…but I guess I overcooked the sugar so that all comes into a ‘bitter version of caramel sauce…ahahaha…thx…I will read this oneforst before making another caramel…love it!’

  • Reply brendan October 1, 2012 at 10:04 PM

    does this even have a tiny tiny bitter taste or does it have no bitter taste at all?

  • Reply brendan October 1, 2012 at 10:05 PM

    does this have a tiny tiny bitter taste or no bitter at all?

  • Reply Shaheen October 2, 2012 at 6:51 AM

    I ended up with a caramel with a slight bitter taste as well just yesterday when I tried to make myself a batch. It’s only because I cooked it for a weel bit longer trying to get a darker colour. Lesson learned: don’t gauge colour in a black pan!

    • Reply Katja April 4, 2013 at 10:59 PM

      This is also probably because you used salted butter.

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  • Reply Des December 6, 2012 at 11:31 AM

    Need some help anyone. I have tried this 3 times and had problems each time.
    What heat do you set the stove and can you stir the sugar while it is melting?
    I found that the sugar took a long time to melt and once the butter was added, the sugar turned rock hard. Impossible to add the cream.
    Any suggestions please?

    • Reply Katja April 4, 2013 at 11:01 PM

      Set it on medium, DO NOT STIR UNTILL YOU’VE ADDED THE CREAM!and I’d it turns rock hard heat it up it will take a while but it will soften. When you add the cream to will bubble so this is usual.

  • Reply Eva December 7, 2012 at 7:26 PM

    Hiya, I LOVE this recipe! I want to drizzle this caramelsauce over brownies I’m going to bring to a party. Can I make it in advance and take it to the party, or would it be wiser to make it there? If I can make it in advance, how long can I keep it stored?

    Thanks a bunch!


    • Reply Shaheen December 10, 2012 at 6:49 PM

      Hey Eva, it’s stated in the recipe that the caramel sauce can be made ahead of time and be refrigerated up to two weeks.

  • Reply Debbie December 12, 2012 at 8:51 PM

    I added Some whisky, brillent for pouring over a walnut cale .

  • Reply Debbie December 12, 2012 at 8:55 PM

    Des add a teaspoon of water to sugar . Let it dissolve dont touch it till bubbling , take off heat Keep stirring , Then add cream..

    • Reply Des December 14, 2012 at 9:37 AM

      THANK YOU DEBBIE! I will give that a try.
      Add the water at the beginning, same time as the sugar? Is this correct?

  • Reply Mel December 14, 2012 at 7:18 AM

    Made this, had to make two back to back. The first came out bitter because I darkened the melted sugar too much. Second batch was absolutely. Perfect. I used regular non fancy unsalted butter and it was fine.

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    Caramel sauce is a beatiful thing. However over cooking the sugar will leave that nasty bitter burnt taste. Whats worked best for me is, on a gas range med-low for disolving sugar and med-high for the cooking stage. I also use a candy thermomiter to asure the right temp.I do whisk the sugar during the disolving stage, in my opinion it does help with the breakdown of the sugar.

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    Just made this. Just perfect! :)

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  • Reply Phoebe April 12, 2013 at 5:47 PM

    If I put this on a hot bread pudding and then under the broiler till it bubbles madly, will it turn nice & chewy-crunchy? That’s the kind of caramel topping I’m looking for.

  • Reply Phoebe April 12, 2013 at 5:47 PM

    If I put this on a hot bread pudding and then under the broiler till it bubbles madly, will it turn nice & chewy-crunchy? That’s the kind of caramel topping I’m looking for.

    • Reply Shaheen April 14, 2013 at 2:21 PM

      Hi Phoebe, I’m not sure if this will work, but if you do try it, please let us all know! : )

    • Reply sarah September 25, 2013 at 5:02 PM

      For chewy-crunchy you probably want to omit the cream and go with just the butter and sugar – I just made an upside down cake using caramel sauce just from butter and sugar – I was worried because when the caramel cooled it was really hard and brittle, but after baking with the cake batter it was perfectly chewy-crunchy. Hope it works!

  • Reply Rutvika April 14, 2013 at 7:29 PM

    Hey Shaheen, i tried your caramel sauce with Amul butter (salted) and it tasted fantastic. Not bitter at all… I skipped adding the pinch of salt. It was finger licking delicious. Thank you for this one!

  • Reply Crystal April 16, 2013 at 4:43 AM

    I made this caramel sauce and it turned out pretty well, but there was a lump of caramel in the middle, it still was nice though

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  • Reply Theresa April 24, 2013 at 4:05 AM

    I just made this to go with apple bread pudding. OMG. It’s a-mah-zing!

    Thank you for posting this. I was looking for just the right thing and I found it.

    My only problem with be cleaning the pan. Any thoughts?

    • Reply Shaheen April 24, 2013 at 9:21 AM

      Just fill it up with water when the pan is still hot and forget about it for a few hours. Cleaning will be a cinch.

  • Reply Alissa April 28, 2013 at 5:12 PM

    This looks so good!
    I was just wondering is this caramel sauce thick.
    And if so, do i have to wait until it cools to see that it is a thick consistency or will it be thick when it is warm/hot?

    • Reply Shaheen April 29, 2013 at 2:30 PM

      It’s a thick sauce that gets firm on refrigeration – warm it a bit in a water bath and you’re good.

      • Reply Alissa April 29, 2013 at 6:08 PM

        Thank you!
        I’m going to try this out now :)

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  • Reply Joy August 16, 2013 at 12:54 PM

    I just made this sauce to dribble over coffee but what I really want is a hazelnut sauce to drizzle so I can make my own hazelnut macchiato. I like your hazelnut extract recipe so I will try that and then add it to the caramel sauce. have you tried this or have a better idea?

    • Reply Shaheen August 17, 2013 at 11:11 PM

      You could use hazelnut liqueur instead of the cream – don’t cook it as much because you don’t want the alcohol to evaporate!

  • Reply lisa September 4, 2013 at 10:24 PM

    Just made this with regular butter, had a few hard lumps but just strained it while still warm. I COULD DRINK THIS STUFF. DELICIOUS!!!!
    Thank you, I think this was the easiest sauce I ever made.

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  • Reply Peggy October 30, 2013 at 4:21 AM

    Epic fail
    What did I do wrong?
    The sugar took forever to melt then turned to pebbles?

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  • Reply vandita December 17, 2013 at 8:23 PM

    Hi shaheen,
    Xmas time means some baking…your caramel sauce recipe looks v v inviting…one ques rather two…should we add little bit of water while melting sugar and can we use amul cream if double cream or tropolite is not available. Last time my caramel sauce was a nightmare…hopefully this time will do a decent job..

    • Reply Shaheen December 17, 2013 at 8:49 PM

      Hi Vandita – you should use Amul cream, not Tropolite. That’s a non-dairy cream and isn’t suited to make caramel. You can also add a bit of water to caramelise the sugar – it’ll only take longer to caramelise.

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  • Reply Meg February 28, 2014 at 6:10 AM

    This is a great, simple recipe even with my salted butter instead of Maldon, which I thought would be superfluous. Not bitter, but complex and perfect. Thank you! I did get a few lumps, probably from adding cold cream, but they just stuck to the whisk so it wasn’t a problem for the sauce texture. I think if the cream was room temperature no lumps would form. Thanks a million, and thanks for posting the link to David Liebovitz’s tips, the photos helped.

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  • Reply Jane September 6, 2014 at 4:18 PM

    Very easy recipe having not made this before. I also only had salted butter & table salt to hand but still delicious. I got one or two lumps (used cold cream straight from the fridge) but not a problem except for the fight that nearly ensued over who got to eat that bit off the whisk.

    Lasts up to 2 weeks in the fridge……very much doubt that, I’ll be having to make more in a day or so!

  • Reply Chris Coulson September 23, 2014 at 1:52 PM

    just ued this recipe and it is absolutely amazing!

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    A splash of Brandy makes it "oh so nice"!

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  • Reply Danielle Smale January 29, 2015 at 5:21 PM

    Can anyone shed any light on what I'm doing so wrong? I've attempted this 4 times today and the first it just ended up with solid lumps that I couldn't get rid of – the next 3 attempts all ended up tasting sour as the sugar burnt. Am I right in thinking that the sugar needs to dissolve before I add the butter? By the time it's melted (on a very low heat) it is always burnt. Have tried using granulated and caster sugar and have not stirred and have also stirred. I don't know what else to try :(. I'm desperate to manage to do this! Many thanks in advance for any tips :)

  • Reply Ruchira June 23, 2015 at 7:15 PM

    Rem Shaheen….. The recipe for the sauce seems to have disappeared ! Could you check on it please ?

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