Finished caramel sauce.
One of the easiest sauces to make in a small kitchen with few ingredients, is caramel sauce. It sounds intimidating and, yes, it can be pretty easy to mess up. As long as you watch the sugar carefully, you should have no problem whipping up a batch to pour on cakes, ice cream, fruit, etc.
This sauce will have to be prepared on your cook top, so pull out a fairly deep pot and a wooden spoon. Those are absolutely required utensils for caramel sauce. When it gets to boiling, the sugar will froth up quite high and reach up to a couple of hundred degrees fahrenheit, so you don’t want plastic melting into your sauce or metal spoons transferring that heat to your fingers.
Ingredients for about 1 1/2 cups of sauce
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup heavy cream (or coconut cream)
Salt to taste (optional)
This makes a creamy caramel sauce, but you can leave out the cream and still have a delicious sauce. If you want to make it creamy and can’t find heavy cream, you can substitute in coconut cream. You’ll have to put a container of coconut milk upside down in your refrigerator overnight. The cream and water will separate and the cream will solidify slightly. When you take the milk out the next day, carefully turn the milk over so that the cream and water don’t remix, and pour the water into another container to use later. Chilled coconut cream is much thicker than heavy cream, but your sauce will turn out the same.
Pour the sugar and water into your pan and put over medium heat. At this point you can very gently stir a couple of times to help the sugar dissolve. As soon as you can see that all of the sugar has dissolved, put the spoon down and back up. Seriously, don’t touch anything! Just watch. If you try to stir now, crystals will form.
Your sugar will start to boil and you might be tempted to turn down the heat or stir. Don’t! As long as you are using a pot with high sides (your sugar should only cover the bottom of the pot, not fill it), you don’t have to worry about it boiling over. It might start to look a little scary, but just keep watching.
When you sugar turns a golden brown, remove the pot from the heat immediately. You should not be able to smell burnt sugar.
Golden brown sugar mixture.
If you want a creamy caramel sauce, now is the time to add the cream. Be very careful when you add the cream. The sugar will froth up again and might splatter you with tiny bits of sugary napalm if you are standing right over the pot.
Adding cream to sauce.
The sauce will also thicken up a bit so get your spoon and stir it gently. You can also add salt to taste at this point if you want a salted caramel sauce. Table salt will dissolve and just give the whole sauce a slightly salty flavor. If you want pockets of flavor, try using sea salt or kosher salt. And that’s how easy it is to make caramel. Try it with banana cake and candied orange peels.
Banana cake with candied orange peel and caramel sauce.