Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Caramel Sauce

Okay, so I don't know quite how to say this, so I'll just go ahead and say it.  The first time I made this, the Barefoot Contessa let me down.  For real.  Big time.  I followed the directions from Barefoot Contessa At Home, word for word.  And I made...crystallized sugar.  Which was what I had started with.  And which does not make for an exciting ice cream topping.  I fretted.  I stressed.  I managed not to cry.  And then I googled the recipe.  I should do so more often, mainly, before I start a new recipe.  Because it turns out that about 63 other people have also followed this recipe and made crystallized sugar.  So, while my husband was running out to the store to get more sugar and cream, I hatched a plan.  And then I hatched out a successful batch of caramel sauce!
On my stove, this took A LOT longer than the book said it would.  I learned to be patient.  I also learned that it's important to use cane sugar, and not beet sugar.  A few people suggested adding 2 Tbsp corn syrup to prevent the crystallization.  I used 2 Tbsp of Lyle's Golden Syrup, which lent the sauce a most fabulous flavor. If you don't have that (it's a British ingredient), go ahead and use a little corn syrup. 
All of my stress aside, once I made this recipe with a few changes, it was actually marvelously easy.  It took a little while, but you can be puttering around doing all sorts of other things while it's up and going.

Caramel Sauce
yields about 1 and 1/2 cups
adapted from Barefoot Contessa At Home, original recipe here

1 1/2 cups sugar
2 Tbsp Lyle's Golden Syrup (or corn syrup)
1 1/4 cups heavy cream
1/2 tsp vanilla extract

1. Mix the sugar in 1/3 cup water in a medium, heavy bottomed saucepan.  Mix in the Golden Syrup.  Place the pan over low heat, and cook without stirring until the sugar dissolves.  Ina says it should take 5-10 minutes...I think it took me more like 20-30 minutes.  Meanwhile, measure out the heavy cream and add the vanilla so you are not freaking out at the last minute. 
2. Increase the heat to medium, and boil covered until the sugar turns a warm chestnut brown.  Um, for me, I cooked it until it was the color of my hair (see picture at right), but if you don't have brown hair, go with the chestnuts.  Again, Ina says this takes 5-7 minutes, but it took me much longer (about 20 or so).  Swirl the pan from time to time, and watch it more carefully towards the end.  Using the golden syrup makes it a little harder to see the color change, but it should look significantly darker.  If you have a candy thermometer, the temperature should reach 350 degrees.
3. Remove the pan from the heat.  Add the heavy cream.  Stand back and do this carefully -- the caramel is VERY hot.  The cream will bubble; the caramel will solidify; things will look bleak.  Just put the pan back on low heat, and stir until the caramel dissolves (this only takes a minute or two). 
4. Allow to cool to room temperature.  The caramel will thicken as it cools.  Stays well in the fridge up to 2 weeks, if it lasts that long.


  1. Good for you for giving it another try! Caramel sauce can be SO frustrating!!! The rewards are fantastic though :-) Yours looks beautiful!

  2. This caramel sauce looks so delightful!What did you end up using it with?

  3. Thanks, the rewards were great. We just poured this over vanilla ice cream. Although, some may have been just licked right off a spoon at times, but I don't know who did that.

  4. This sounds delicious! Bet it is perfect over ice cream! Way to go!

  5. the end product looks awesome. delicious and oozy!

  6. Wow...this looks so tempting and very very yum...
    First time here...lovely space you have...interesting collection of recipes...Am your happy follower now..:)
    Do drop in at my space sometime.

  7. hi... thanks for stopping by my site the other day... glad you liked the paneer butter masala. Let me know if you get a chance to try it out. I would love to know how it turned out.
    My 3 year old daughter and I don't have much of a sweet tooth but my hubby is another story, you can bathe him in caramel sauce and he wouldn't mind ;) you can probably guess that I will try it out.
    aipi (http://usmasala.blogspot.com/)

  8. I will definitly try this version. It sounds very easy and yummy! It looks really amazing :)

  9. How delectable! I bet it was scrumptious over ice cream.

  10. wow, I never thought to make this - looks great!

  11. Good job sticking with it. Homemade caramel is so much better. We're not chocolate lovers so, it's usually homemade caramel adorning our desserts. I've not tried Ina's recipe. Btw, water is not listed in your ingredients list.