This browser does not support the video element.

Voraciously

How to make caramel sauce

This browser does not support the video element.

TWP

This browser does not support the video element.

The Washington Post

This browser does not support the video element.

Consisting primarily of two ingredients – sugar and liquid, most commonly heavy cream – caramel sauce is a simple recipe that requires an exacting process. Before you turn on a burner, it’s imperative to have your ingredients ready to go as time is of the essence – caramel can very quickly go from beautifully brown to burned and bitter. You’ll need a whisk or heatproof spatula and a heavy-bottomed, light-colored saucepan, such as one made of stainless steel, so you can easily see the changing color of the sugar.

The Washington Post

This browser does not support the video element.

The Washington Post

This browser does not support the video element.

There are two methods for making caramel: wet and dry, which indicate whether water is added to the sugar. The wet method ensures a more even caramelization, so that’s the method we’re showing here. To start, put the sugar and water in a saucepan over medium-high heat, stirring to dissolve the sugar at first and then letting it cook, undisturbed, until it begins to turn light golden.

The Washington Post

This browser does not support the video element.

The Washington Post

This browser does not support the video element.

Continue cooking, carefully swirling the pan a bit so the caramelizing stays even, until the syrup is a deep amber color. Then immediately remove from the heat. (While recipes will give time estimates, the only indicator that really matters is color.)

The Washington Post

This browser does not support the video element.

The Washington Post

This browser does not support the video element.

Add about one-third of the cream and stir for a few seconds. The mixture is going to bubble and create a lot of steam. (Watch out!) The caramel might also seize up, but it will be okay. Add the remaining heavy cream, place the pan over medium-low heat, and cook, stirring regularly, until smooth and slightly thickened. Remove from heat.

The Washington Post

This browser does not support the video element.

The Washington Post

This browser does not support the video element.

Now it’s time to season the caramel sauce, and salt and vanilla extract are standard. When tasting, make sure to taste a cooled-off sample so as to not burn yourself – hot sugar is very dangerous! – and adjust with more salt or vanilla extract as needed. If you want some extra sheen, finish by stirring in a small knob of butter until it has melted and the caramel sauce is shiny.

The Washington Post

This browser does not support the video element.

The Washington Post

This browser does not support the video element.

Now it’s ready to enjoy! The sauce thickens as it cools, so you’ll want to serve it warm or at room temperature. Caramel sauce will last in the refrigerator for about a month, so just warm it up a bit to make it pourable again.

The Washington Post

Rey Lopez for The Washington Post/Food styling by Lisa Cherkasky for The Washington Post

More from the Post

Go-To Salted Caramel Sauce

How to fold ingredients

This silky dark chocolate syrup is an all-purpose dessert star

The latest from The Washington Post