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Kitchen Lab: My Baby’s Got Sauce

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Summer’s coming! Which means ice cream is extra-good. And the only thing that could possibly approach the deliciousness of my beloved Sanders on top of a really good French vanilla is a good caramel sauce. And it’s insanely easy to make your own!

Now, I’m not gonna call anyone’s favored coffee shop out for squeezing some mono- and diglycerides* over your latte**, because I understand that not everyone has fifteen minutes in which to take three ingredients and combine them to form Voltron into deliciousness. But if you can pay attention to something for a quarter-hour, you too can have amazing homemade caramel sauce.

I made salted caramel sauce. Because of reasons, that’s why.

cream, butter, salt and sugar
It’s really this easy.

So, here’s what you need to make salted caramel sauce:

Not even kidding. A cup of heavy cream, 12 tablespoons of butter, 2 cups of sugar, and, if you like, maybe a tablespoon of salt. Three, maybe four ingredients. YOU GOT THIS.

Let’s begin.

First, get all your stuff together. Once you start making this sauce, you’re committed until it’s done. No running to the bathroom real quick, no browsing Facebook, just do this one thing for fifteen gorram minutes, okay?! Sheesh.

Dump the sugar into a nice, big, heavy saucepan. Turn the heat to medium-high. Yes, you’re cooking sugar. Yes, I know this seems weird. Yes, you need to stir it. A lot. Like, constantly. If you whisk it (as advised), your whisk may just try to collect a big wad of melty sugar inside of itself at first. Do not panic, it will all work out. Keep whisking until all of the sugar is melted; it will turn brown. One might even call the color… caramel?

[There are no pictures of this process. I was busy whisking.]

Keep heating the melted sugar until it gets to 350F. Thermometers are your friend. I’d give it an occasional stir until you get to this point, too. Once the sugar gets to 350, add the butter in small chunks. Whisk that in, too… or use a spoon if the whisk is ticking you off.

Remove the pan from the heat and slooooooowwwwwwwllllllly add the heavy cream. It will bubble. A lot. Do not panic. Whisk. Whisk whisk whisk.

When the cream is well whisked in, you may stir in the salt if you’ve decided to be awesome. (Although you purist, unsalted types are also pretty great.) Let the sauce cool for 15 minutes or so in the pan, then pour it into your storage container (I recommend a jar). Let it cool to room temperature, then store it in the fridge. Or eat some while it’s still warm. Entirely up to you.

You just made your own caramel sauce. How frickin’ awesome is that?

bowl of vanilla ice cream with caramel sauce
Somethin’ like an om-nom-i-nom…

* which apparently have hydrophilic and hydrophobic properties (meaning they can both attract and repel water – HOW DO THEY KNOW?)

** or maybe just some CORN SYRUP, HIGH FRUCTOSE CORN SYRUP, SUGAR, BUTTER (CREAM, SALT), CREAM, WATER, NONFAT DRY MILK, NATURAL FLAVOUR, MONO AND DIDLYCERIDES (4471), PRESERVATIVE: POTASSIUM SORBATE (E202), SOY LECITHIN (AN EMULSIFIER, E322), SODIUM BICARBONATE (E500ii).

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