After getting several requests from readers for dessert sauce recipes, I added caramel sauce to my lineup of this year's edible gifts. Little did I know what I was getting myself into!
On my first try, the sauce turned into a hardened mass of sugar — and the second time, too. The third mixture was grainy. After reading your suggestions, I gave Alton Brown's tried-and-true methods a chance, adding corn syrup and cream of tartar to prevent crystallization. Without a candy thermometer, I missed the mark a bit on trial four, and the sauce turned out creamy but slightly burnt. And the fifth time was the charm!
Through my many trials, I've learned the following: Have everything ready to go; don't turn away for a second; corn syrup and cream of tartar are your allies. You can succeed sans thermometer if you rely on sight and smell. And, most important, don't be afraid! It's not nearly as difficult as it sounds — and, once you nail it, you're golden forever. See my foolproof recipe when you
Caramel SauceAdapted from Alton Brown
2 cups sugar
1 tablespoon light corn syrup
1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar
1 cup water
1 cup heavy cream
Equipment: Heavy saucepan, silicone spatula, and candy thermometer (optional)
- Combine sugar, corn syrup, cream of tartar, and water into a 2-quart saucepan on high heat, and stir with silicone spatula.
- When sugar has dissolved, insert candy thermometer, and bring mixture to a boil.
- Turn down to medium heat once temperature reads 230ºF, or has reached the soft-ball candy stage and is a light caramel color.
- When temperature has reached 300ºF, approximately five minutes later, stir mixture with silicone spatula to ensure sugar solution will heat evenly.
- At 340ºF, when the solution is a dark reddish-brown, immediately turn off heat, remove the thermometer, pour in heavy cream, and stand back to avoid any splatters.
- Once the mixture calms down, return heat back to medium, and continue cooking for 3 minutes, stirring occasionally.
- Remove from heat and allow to cool thoroughly before transferring to any containers. To enjoy warm, microwave in heatsafe container for 30 seconds, or submerge jar in warm water.
Makes approximately 2 cups.