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Brown-Sugar Caramel Sauce

Yield: Yields 2-3/4 cups.

Brown sugar, butter and vanilla make a remarkable, full-flavored sauce that’s something like butterscotch, only better.


  • 2 cups packed brown sugar (light or dark)
  • 3/4 cup water
  • 1-1/2 cups heavy cream
  • 4 oz. (1/2 cup) unsalted butter, cut into 4 chunks
  • Seeds scraped from 1 vanilla bean
  • 1/4 tsp. table salt


  • In a medium, heavy-based saucepan, combine the brown sugar and water. Stir to dissolve the sugar. Cook over high heat, swirling the pan continuously, until the caramel reaches 280°F on a candy thermometer.
  • Immediately remove the pan from the heat and slowly and carefully pour in the cream (the caramel may sputter). Boil over high heat for 2 minutes, stirring occasionally, to blend. Remove from the heat and slowly whisk in the butter, vanilla seeds, and salt.
  • Cool slightly before using.

Make Ahead Tips

The sauce can be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to two weeks or in the freezer indefinitely.


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Reviews (1 review)

  • ak9doc | 12/11/2008

    OK, the picture looks a heck of a lot lighter in color than the sauce I ended up with. By the time I got to 265F, I could smell the caramel starting to burn despite continuous swirling (my arms and shoulders hurt)so I had to take it off the stove, and I could tell it had a slightly burnt taste after. I don't think this was the intent here. I am at sea level, so shouldn't have needed to make any adjustments. I think I will pick a different recipe - this one too cumbersome and results not great. For anyone who plans to try this, I'd advise wearing long sleeves and gloves or mitts - the cooking caramel really hurts when tiny drops hit your arms and hands. :((

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