The Best Caramel Sauce. Ever.

November 10, 2011

 Salted Caramel Sauce

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

Ingredients

  • 200g / 1cup white sugar
  • 90g / 6tbsp unsalted butter (the best you can get your hands on)
  • 120g / 1/2 cup cream (double cream, preferably)
  • 1 tsp (or more) Maldon Sea Salt or Fleur de Sel

Method

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. Next, pour in the cream (more foaming) and whisk in until you have a consistent sauce.
  4. Stir in half the salt. Let it cool completely. Stir in the remaining salt. Bottle it.
  5. Serve it on a cake, in a cake, over ice-cream, tarts, crumbles, pancakes, brownies, waffles, toast, granola. Everything.
  6. Store in refrigerator for upto two weeks.

UPDATE!

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.

{ 98 comments… read them below or add one }

1 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?

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2 brendan October 1, 2012 at 10:05 PM

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

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3 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!

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4 Katja April 4, 2013 at 10:59 PM

This is also probably because you used salted butter.

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5 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?

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6 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.

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7 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!

Eva

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8 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.

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9 Debbie December 12, 2012 at 8:51 PM

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

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10 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..

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11 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?

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12 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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13 LittleLennyBakes January 11, 2013 at 11:20 PM

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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14 Trishnanta March 24, 2013 at 1:21 PM

Just made this. Just perfect! :)

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15 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.
Thanks!

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16 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.
Thanks!

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17 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! : )

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18 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!

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19 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!

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20 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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21 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?

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22 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.

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23 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?
Thanks

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24 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.

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25 Alissa April 29, 2013 at 6:08 PM

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

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26 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?

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27 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!

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28 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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29 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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30 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..
Vandita

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31 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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32 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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