This salted caramel sauce is pretty much the most delicious thing there is. I have been making it for ages and I have never found another caramel that tastes as good as this one. I only requires butter, sugar, cream, salt and vanilla to make and you won’t believe how much delicious flavor it has.
You can use this sauce in so many ways. It can be a topping for ice cream, a dip for apples or other dessert items, and I have used it in many baked goods over the years. We’ve also been known to eat it by the spoonful out of the jar.
A dry caramel technique is used for this sauce. The dry caramel method just means the sugar is put into a dry pan to caramelize and no water or corn syrup is added. It is easier to burn dry caramel, but I find overall it is less prone to problems like crystallization or lack of good caramel flavor like wet caramel methods can have.
The first step is to heat the sugar over medium heat in a heavy bottomed pan. It is important to use a good sturdy pan for this as inconsistent heat is not caramel’s friend. You also want a pot that you can see the color of the caramel in. So not a dark lined one. I use this All Clad Stainless Steel pot that I bought specifically for candy making because it is so important for cooking sugar and candy to get the temp consistent. This is also my favorite pot for making rice though, because it’s the perfect size and the lid fits tightly.
The sugar heats untouched until it starts to melt and caramelize at the edges of the pan. You can see the line of liquid sugar in the top of the picture (sorry for the poor pictures on this. Caramel is very time sensitive and it is hard to cook and take pictures at the same time!). Once it starts to melt, you slowly start to stir to uncooked sugar around into the melted sugar. It all clumps up like the picture below, but will eventually all melt.
Once the sugar all melts and is smooth, you allow it to cook while swirling until it is a dark amber color. It goes from caramel to burnt really quickly and burnt does not taste that good. Watch it closely. You want a dark color but not too dark. Like a new penny. You can also test it with an instant read thermometer and stop at 350, but I don’t do this because it is kind of a pain. It can be helpful when you are first learning this recipe though. As soon as it is dark enough, the butter is whisked in, followed by the cream and vanilla and it is removed from the heat and whisked until smooth. The salt is then whisked in.
Once it has cooled a bit you can pour into a heat safe container (I use a quart canning jar), and stored sealed air tight in the fridge. This sauce keeps for weeks in the fridge, but it won’t last that long.
Salted Caramel Sauce
- 2 cups sugar
- 12 tbsp unsalted butter room temp
- 1 cup cream room temp
- 1 tbsp fleur de sel or other flaky sea salt
- 1 tsp vanilla
- Place the sugar in an even layer in a heavy bottomed pot light in color.
- Heat over medium until a layer of liquid sugar forms all around the outside of the pot.
- Begin to gently mix dry sugar into the liquid sugar and continue this until it all melted and uniform.
- Continue cooking and swirling the caramel until it is dark amber in color. Do not burn.
- Add the butter all at once and whisk to slowly combine. Be careful because the mixture will bubble and release hot steam. Once the butter is whisked in fully, slowly add the cream while whisking.
- Remove from heat and mix in the vanilla and salt and whisk until smooth.
- Cool slightly and pour into a heat safe container. When cool, cover tightly and store in the fridge. Rewarm in the microwave to pouring consistency when using as a topping for ice cream or other item.