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Honey-Orange Caramel Sauce

Yield: Yields 1-1/2 cups sauce

The key to this sauce, excerpted from the cookbook Modern Sauces, is to make sure that the flavors of the caramel and the orange remain in balance. Unlike the other sauces in this chapter, I cook the sugar and honey only until amber, and not long enough to develop any bitter notes. The orange zest has enough delicious bitterness on its own. Use a rasp-style grater, such as a Microplane, to finely grate the zest. You can leave the zest in the sauce, but if you want the sauce very smooth, or if the orange flavor is too strong, strain it out.

This recipe is excerpted from Modern Sauces. Read our review.


  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup honey
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • 1/4 cup fresh orange juice (from about 1 orange)
  • 1/2 tsp. lightly packed finely grated orange zest
  • 1⁄8 tsp. pure vanilla extract, plus more if needed
  • 1 Tbs. unsalted butter
  • Kosher salt


  • In a medium, heavy saucepan, combine the sugar and honey (you need a lot of extra volume in the pan because the honey makes the mixture foam up during cooking) over medium-high heat. Cook, using a small whisk or metal spoon to stir frequently, until the sugar and honey are blended and the sugar melts.
  • Continue to boil, stirring as needed to keep the foam from overflowing, until the mixture is rich amber and smells like caramel, 6 to 8 minutes. At this point, you can test the color of the caramel by spooning a few drops of it onto a heatproof white plate. Do not let the caramel get so dark that it starts to smell burnt or bitter.
  • Add the cream and orange juice and boil, stirring frequently, until the sauce has thickened a bit and is very smooth, 6 to 8 minutes. Remove from the heat, stir in the orange zest, vanilla, butter, and a pinch of salt. Taste and add more vanilla or salt if needed, but don’t let those flavors overwhelm the delicate orange and honey notes. Strain the sauce, if you like. Serve warm or at room temperature.

Make Ahead Tips

Refrigerate the sauce in an airtight container for up to 3 weeks or freeze in a ziplock freezer bag for up to 2 months.

Use tangerine or Meyer lemon zest and juice instead of orange.


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