Whenever I had seen people “make” caramel, it usually meant melting down this little caramel square candies – you know the ones that get wedged into your teeth for days? But since, I didn’t have any of those candies, and I didn’t want to run to the store, I did my usual internet scavenger hunt. I found a simple recipe from www.inspiredtaste.net. It’s a great post on caramel because it goes through step by step with photos, which is great because I don’t own a candy thermometer (and again not in the mood to go to the store). So I was able to make this caramel based on time limits and visuals. I was so excited because it ended up being so much easier than I thought it would be and only required 4 ingredients – sugar, water, vanilla and heavy whipping cream – 5 ingredients if you include patience. Also, I only did half of the recipe from their post since I was only using this sauce as a drizzle for some other treats I made on Sunday, but I will post the full version anyway. I also left out the sea salt, but I imagine I will want to try making this again with the sea salt added. Here we go…

Caramel Sauce

1 1/2 c. sugar
1/3 c. water
1 1/4 c. heavy cream ( I used whipping cream)
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 – 1 tsp sea salt (if desired – as said earlier I left this part out)

Pour sugar and water into a medium heavy bottomed saucepan. Stir then cook (without stirring) over low heat 5-10 minutes until the sugar has dissolved. Use a damp brush to brush down any sugar that has creeped up the sides of the pan, but be careful not to drag the sugar water up the sides of the pan (this part was rough, so go slow!) If you have one, attach a candy thermometer to the side of the pan now – increase the heat to medium. Cook, again without stirring, until the sugar reaches 350 degrees or until it becomes a dark caramel brown color (see pic). Their blog said it would take 5-8 minutes but it took me probably more like 10 minutes so just be sure to watch for the color change. Every so often, gently swirl the pan to stir the mixture. Once 350 degrees (or the dark color) has been reached, turn off the heat and immediately pour in the cream and vanilla (I had these premixed in my measuring cup for quick addition). The cream boil and splatter and steam so be sure to stand back and be careful not to put your face too close at this point. After boiling the caramel will start solidify, don’t panic!  Add caramel back to the burner over low heat for 2 minutes, constantly stirring until the solids have dissolved and the caramel is smooth. Don’t forget to use a utensil that won’t melt! I used a silicon spatula. If desired, stir in 1/2 teaspoon of salt, wait to cool on a spoon for tasting and if it needs more salt add another 1/4 to a 1/2 teaspoon more. Let cool to room temperature, put in a air tight container and store in the refrigerator up to two weeks, warm before serving. Nom, nom, nom. Good luck!!