My Recipe Box

Caramel Sauce


Yields about 6-1/2 cups.

  • To learn more, read:
    Topping It Off
  • by from Fine Cooking
    Issue 61

Sugar can burn easily, so use a heavy-­based pot, preferably one that doesn’t have a dark interior so that you can monitor the sugar once it begins to color.

  • 4 cups granulated sugar
  • 2 Tbs. light corn syrup
  • 4 cups (1 quart) heavy cream, at room temperature
  • 4 oz. (1/2 cup) unsalted butter, softened and cut into pieces
  • 1/4 tsp. table salt
For easy cleaning, soak the pot and utensils in hot water. To loosen any cooked-on sugar, fill the pot with water and set it on the heat.

Set a small dish of water and a pastry brush by the stove. Pour 1 cup water into a heavy-based 8-quart saucepan or Dutch oven. Add the sugar and corn syrup. Cook over high heat, stirring often with a wooden spoon, until the mixture is clear and comes to a boil. If sugar crystals form on the sides of the pan, wash them down with a wet pastry brush.

Reduce the heat to maintain a gentle boil; it shouldn’t be spattering. Don’t stir but check frequently while boiling gently until the sugar begins to turn a light honey color in spots, about 20 minutes. Whenever sugar crystals form on the sides of the pan, wash them down with a wet pastry brush. Swirl the pan gently to even out the color. When the mixture reaches a rich, red-brown color, about another 8 minutes, take the pan off the heat. Slowly pour in the cream (be careful—the mixture will bubble vigorously and produce a lot of steam). Stir with a wooden spoon, making sure any solidified caramel on the pan bottom or sides melts. (If it doesn’t, set the pan over medium-low heat and stir gently until the caramel is completely smooth.) Stir in the butter and salt. Let cool to room temperature before stirring in the flavorings (if using; see Variations, below) and pouring into individual jars.


Espresso Caramel Sauce: Dissolve 3 Tbs. instant espresso powder into 2 to 3 tsp. hot water. Stir into the cooled caramel sauce to blend.

Orange-Cardamom Caramel Sauce: In a small saucepan, combine 1-1/2 cups fresh orange juice with 2 Tbs. plus 2 tsp. finely grated orange zest, bring to a boil, and cook until reduced to about 1/2 cup. Pour through a fine sieve, pressing against the zest to release all the liquid. Stir the strained, reduced orange juice and 4 tsp. ground cardamom into the cooled caramel sauce.

Photo: Scott Phillips

Absolutely fabulous.

This was so easy and so delicious. I followed the recipe exactly as written. The key is to have your heavy cream at room temperature and use a heavy bottomed pan. I've made the Espresso caramel and the plain caramel sauce. Both are so good and very easy to do.

I've tried a number of caramel sauces and this is my favorite for the flavor and nice smooth texture. The reason I did not give it a 5 star is because it is a little difficult to time when to take it off the heat and to pour in the cream. But it is the recipe I will continue to use.

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