When you describe something as being “vanilla” this may mean it is plain and simple, or it may be a more negative description meaning that something is ordinary, conventional or boring.
I like vanilla ice cream, but sometimes it can be so very…vanilla. I recently bought a half gallon of Bluebell Vanilla Bean ice cream instead of my usual purchase of Homemade Vanilla. Homemade Vanilla is a vanilla ice cream that can be eaten end enjoyed plain. The Vanilla Bean, in my opinion, cannot. I needed something to make it a little more interesting. Something to kick it up a notch. Chocolate syrup was not going to do it for me. I found this recipe for caramel sauce on Simply Recipes, and it was terrific.
I had all the ingredients (there are only three!) and it didn’t take long at all. The only part that takes any time is waiting for the sugar to melt. Everything else goes extremely quickly. So, heed the advice in the recipe and have everything ready to go before you start. And use a pan with high sides. The cream definitely makes the sugar mixture spatter, and it is hot. Be careful.
My caramel sauce was pretty dark, but very delicious. I poured it warm over some vanilla ice cream the night I made it and it was perfect. I kept the rest in the fridge for a day or so. When I wanted some more, I just scooped a spoonful out of the jar and heated it in the microwave. Easy-peasy.
Here is a link to the recipe.
- 1 cup of sugar
- 6 Tbsp butter
- 1/2 cup heavy whipping cream
- First, before you begin, make sure you have everything ready to go – the cream and the butter next to the pan, ready to put in. Making caramel is a fast process that cannot wait for hunting around for ingredients. If you don’t work fast, the sugar will burn. Safety first – make sure there are no children under foot and you may want to wear oven mitts; the caramelized sugar will be much hotter than boiling water.
- Heat sugar on moderately high heat in a heavy-bottomed 2-quart or 3-quart saucepan. As the sugar begins to melt, stir vigorously with a whisk or wooden spoon. As soon as the sugar comes to a boil, stop stirring. You can swirl the pan a bit if you want, from this point on. Note that this recipe works best if you are using a thick-bottomed pan. If you find that you end up burning some of the sugar before the rest of it is melted, the next time you attempt it, add a half cup of water to the sugar at the beginning of the process, this will help the sugar to cook more evenly, though it will take longer as the water will need to evaporate before the sugar will caramelize.
- As soon as all of the sugar crystals have melted (the liquid sugar should be dark amber in color), immediately add the butter to the pan. Whisk until the butter has melted.
- Once the butter has melted, take the pan off the heat. Count to three, then slowly add the cream to the pan and continue to whisk to incorporate. Note than when you add the butter and the cream, the mixture will foam up considerably. This is why you must use a pan that is at least 2-quarts (preferably 3-quarts) big. (Check here for an explanation of why adding the cream makes the mixture bubble up so much.)
- Whisk until caramel sauce is smooth. Let cool in the pan for a couple minutes, then pour into a glass mason jar and let sit to cool to room temperature. (Remember to use pot holders when handling the jar filled with hot caramel sauce.) Store in the refrigerator for up to 2 weeks. Warm before serving.
Makes a little over one cup of sauce.