Making caramel can take some practice, but it's really not as scary as it may seem! With a candy thermometer and a little patience, anyone can whip together a simple and delicious homemade caramel. Trust me, once you've made your own, you will never want to go back to the stuff in the jar (loaded with ingredients I can't even pronounce) ever again!
So, I want all of you out there to promise me that the next time you find yourself in need of some caramel, you'll give this a try, okay? I'm gonna hold you to that!
On with the show! All you'll need is water, sugar, and a little corn syrup. Technically, you can make caramel by using one ingredient, sugar, but I like to reduce the stress in my life, ya know? Ending up with a pan of scorched sugar instead of delicious, gooey goodness is just too terrible a tragedy to deal with.
I may be overreacting, but come on, who hasn't cried over a pan of burned or crystallized caramel with all hopes of a sinful, silky dessert topping gone like Gandhi.
Oh, just me?
First, with stove on high heat, combine corn syrup, sugar, and water into a saucepan, and stir together gently with a nonstick spatula. When the sugar dissolves, attach a candy thermometer to the side of the pan.
The addition of the bit of corn syrup will help prevent crystallization of the sugar while the caramel is cooking, but if you really don't want to use it, you can leave it out. Try a dash of cream of tartar instead!
Leave the heat on high, and bring to a roaring boil. It's important not to stir or shake the pan around during this stage. Doing so will cause annoying crystals to form on the sides of the pan (and your spoon) and it's just plain ole not necessary to stir it!
When the thermometer reads about 230 F, and/or has turned a light caramel color, turn the heat down to medium.
Continue cooking until the thermometer reads 340F and the mixture has turned a dark, rich, yummy caramel color. Be patient, because this will take several minutes. Just watch that thermometer and sip on some iced tea while you wait. 🙂 Once the correct temperature has been reached, you will want to remove the thermometer, remove the pan from the heat, and add your heavy cream.
When you add the cream, have a whisk ready, and be careful, because this stuff will go crazy!! It'll steam and sizzle and foam and pop and generally just misbehave for a few seconds. Whisk vigorously and it'll eventually settle down and everything will come together. Return the pan to the heat, on medium low, and continue cooking for an additional 2-3 minutes until the caramel is smooth.
*Optional: Once the caramel is finished, you can add a dash of vanilla extract for a little extra flavor!
Let cool completely, and then transfer to a storage container. Keep extra caramel in the refrigerator. It will be stiff when cold, but you can nuke it in the microwave for 20-30 seconds for easier pouring and drizzling!
This sauce is very versatile. Here are just a few of the ways that you can use it!
Ways to Use Homemade Caramel Sauce
- Drizzle over ice cream, frozen yogurt, or blend it up into delicious milkshakes.
- Core out the center of cupcakes and fill them up for a tasty surprise!
- Pour over popcorn and toss together - 'nuff said.
- Glaze cakes and brownies as an alternative (or addition!) to frosting
- Swirl together with warm chocolate ganache for a sinful fondue dip!
- One word - apples.
- Add to hot cocoa and top with whipped cream an an additional drizzle of caramel - yum!
- Love salted caramel? I know I do. Sprinkle a bit of sea salt on any of the above suggestions for a little extra kick! You can also add salt during the cooking process as well.
- Dig into it with a spoon, vigorously and shamelessly. We won't tell anyone.
I hope this was helpful! Please leave me a comment and let me know what you think, if you had any problems following the recipe, and most importantly, what you did with your delicious made from scratch caramel!
See you guys next time!