Salted Caramel Sauce is so easy to make and such an essential for any home baker! It makes for the perfect garnish on anything from ice cream (like Salted Caramel Ice Cream) to cake (like Apple Cinnamon Stovetop Cake).
Leaving aside that it is downright delish, Salted Caramel Sauce can be made in under 10 minutes and stores great in the refrigerator.
What’s in Salted Caramel Sauce?
Well, obviously salt and caramel. Duh. But let’s talk about the caramel itself. That can be made two different ways: with the wet method or the dry method. For more on these methods, visit my posts How to Make Wet Caramel and How to Make Dry Caramel.
But what else goes into the sauce?
If you just make caramel and let it cool, it will harden. In that state, it’s not the most enjoyable mouthfeel. Don’t get me wrong, pure caramel (which is simply cooked sugar) is used in a variety of things, such as building a croquembouche or coating nuts.
To obtain a caramel with a pleasing mouthfeel — like the kind you find in a sauce or in a bonbon filling — we need to “soften” up the caramel. We do this by adding liquid and/or fat. In other words, water, cream, milk and/or butter.
I wrote this recipe to use the sauce primarily on ice cream. I LOVE when it hardens on the ice cream. It becomes candy-like and is so freakin’ good! At room temperature, the sauce is pretty thick. I pop it into the microwave at 10 second intervals to slightly heat it up and loosen it up. You will definitely need to do this if you store it in the refrigerator.
If you want a more fluid sauce, play with the recipe by adding more butter. Three tablespoons, as opposed to the the two tablespoons I suggest, should get you that consistency.
Salted Caramel Sauce
- 200 grams sugar (1 cup)
- 58 grams water (only if making a wet caramel) (¼ cup)
- 123 grams heavy cream (½ cup)
- ½ teaspoon sea salt
- ½ teaspoon vanilla bean paste or vanilla extract
- 28 grams unsalted butter, cut into small pieces (2 Tablespoons)
- Pour the sugar into a medium (3 quart) pot. Carefully pour the water over the sugar, trying not to let any of the sugar ride up the sides of the pot. Carefully stir, just to hydrate all the sugar. If any sugar crystals ride up the sides of the pot, use a pastry brush dipped in water and run it along the sides of the pot without allowing the bottom of the pastry brush to touch the mixture. This will cause any sugar crystals to fall into the rest of the mixture.
- On a medium-high heat, cook the sugar mixture. Swirl the pot or stir occasionally, using the wet pastry brush to wipe any sugar crystals that run up the sides of the pot. Once the mixture starts to boil, do not stir the mixture again. Just carefully swirl the pot. Cook until amber/light brown in color. It will go from light brown to burnt quickly, so pay close attention.
- As soon as the caramel is cooked, turn the flame off and carefully and slowly, with a wooden spoon, stir in the heavy cream, just a little at a time. The entire mixture will bubble up violently (so be careful and add the cream in small batches) and the caramel may seize. On medium heat, heat the mixture, stirring frequently, until the caramel is melted and the entire mixture is combined and smooth and just comes to a simmer. Add the salt, vanilla and butter, stirring until the butter is melted and fully combined. Allow to cool to room temperature.
- Caramel sauce can be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to two weeks. To use from the refrigerator, microwave it at 10 second intervals until you reach a runny consistency.
- To make with the dry caramel method, omit the water and cook the sugar in small batches. For more information on the dry caramel method, visit my post How to Make Caramel.
- For a smoother caramel sauce, add another 1-2 tablespoons of butter.
- If you prefer saltier sauce, add additional ⅛ teaspoon each time you make it, until desired taste is achieved.