One day I was craving caramel sauce and decided to search through all the books and torn-out files in my pantry for the perfect recipe. After about an hour I was able to narrow it down to four recipes (I eliminated all the recipes that listed sweetened condensed milk, only sugar and water, or opening a 14 oz. bag of wrapped caramels). One of the four recipes called for a candy thermometer, I have one but didn’t want to use it, so that recipe got eliminated. The remaining three recipes were very similar; all requiring brown sugar, butter, heavy cream and vanilla. I decided to make them all and see which recipe I liked the best.
1. Caramel Sauce from Holiday Baking 2009-published by Meredith Corp.
It is a decent caramel sauce. Because of the added Karo, it sets up really fast and is very glossy and smooth. That’s great if you need it for a bar cookie (like Turtle Brownies). It was the easiest one to make, but did get very thick when it cooled.
2. Buttery Caramel Sauce from Baking by Flavor-by Lisa Yockelson-published by John Wiley & Sons, Inc.
Her recipes are very detail oriented. This caramel sauce was the thinnest of the three, but perfect for drizzling atop a gingerbread cake or an apple pie. Of the three, this one has the deepest and richest flavor. It was exactly what I was looking for. It thickened somewhat once it cooled.
3.Caramel Sauce from The Fanny Farmer Baking Book by Marion Cunningham-published by Alfred A. Knopf, Inc.
This recipe was about 2 sentences long. I cooked this caramel sauce similar to the previous two recipes even though it didn’t say to do so in the instructions. I also added vanilla to the caramel. It runs a close second to caramel sauce #2 in its thickness and uses. The flavor is good and it’s pretty easy to make. This one was Mark’s favorite. Enjoy!
Caramel Sauce #1
1/4 cup whipping cream
1/4 cup butter
1/3 cup packed dark brown sugar( I used light brown sugar)
1 Tablespoon light corn syrup (I used dark Karo)
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
In a small saucepan, combine whipping cream, butter, sugar and corn syrup. Bring to boiling over med-high heat, whisking occasionally. Reduce heat to medium. Boil gently for 3 minutes more. Remove from heat; stir in vanilla. Let cool slightly. Cover and refrigerate leftovers. After refrigerating, let sit at room temperature for 1 hour before serving.
Caramel Sauce #2
6 Tablespoons unsalted butter
3/4 cup packed dark brown sugar, sieved if lumpy (I used light brown sugar)
1 Tablespoon granulated sugar (since I used the light brown, I just added a little extra and skipped this sugar)
2/3 cup plus 1 Tablespoon heavy cream
pinch of salt ( skip this if you are using salted butter)
2 Tablespoons light cream (I used one Tbsp.2% milk, and the second Tbsp of 2% milk had a little heavy cream, too)
1 1/4 teaspoons vanilla extract
pinch of freshly grated nutmeg ( I skipped this)
Place butter and sugar(s) in a saucepan and cook over low heat for about 4 minutes, stirring occasionally, to dissolve the sugar(s). Stir in the heavy cream and salt. Raise the heat to medium and cook for 2 minutes, stirring occasionally with a wooden spoon.
Bring to a low boil over medium heat, stir often and lower heat slightly so that it cooks at a moderate boil for 3 minutes. Add the light cream, stir and continue to boil for 1-2 minutes longer. At this point the sauce should be slightly thickened, smooth, and should coat the back of a wooden spoon. If not, simmer for another minute or two.
Remove from the heat. Add the vanilla and the nutmeg. Stir, and allow to cool to lukewarm before using. Cover and refrigerate any leftovers. To use refrigerated sauce, heat in a saucepan until smooth and liquified. Allow to cool to lukewarm before serving.
Caramel Sauce #3
8 Tablespoons butter
1 cup light brown sugar (I packed it)
1/2 cup heavy cream
Cut the butter into pieces and melt in a saucepan. Stir in the brown sugar and cream. Cook over very low heat, stirring constantly, until all is melted and blended. Whisking the sauce helps to bring it together. Serve warm, refrigerate what is not used. I did start the sauce on low, but then brought it to a low boil for 3 minutes, removed it from the heat and added 1/2 teaspoon vanilla.