My other love, besides chocolate, is caramel. I grew up on the caramel in chocolate bars or in jars but never experienced the joy of homemade caramel until several years ago when I was inspired by a Martha Stewart Living recipe. The first time it worked like a charm, the second time I botched it. It can be tricky because if you get the smallest sugar crystal forming in your sugar syrup it can turn the whole mixture into something resembling coarse salt. There is nothing you can do with it but throw it out. The only way to keep this from happening is with care and patience when wiping down the sides with the pastry brush. Don’t get the brush too wet and don’t let it dip down into the mixture itself. The first time I tasted this sauce, I thought I was in sugar high heaven! I had to force myself not to eat the whole pot with a spoon 😛 So if you’re planning on making something special for Valentine’s Day which calls for caramel sauce, this is well worth the effort.
Homemade Caramel Sauce
1 cup sugar
3/4 cup heavy cream
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
Combine sugar and 1/4 cup water in a small saucepan over medium-high heat. Bring to a boil without stirring. Wipe down sides of pan with a pastry brush dipped in water to prevent sugar crystals from forming. Just as liquid begins to brown, swirl pan to color evenly. Remove from heat when liquid is dark amber. Slowly add cream, stirring with a wooden spoon. Add butter and vanilla; stir to combine. Let cool slightly.