Here, you get the tawny sweetness of caramel and the earthiness of chocolate, with of course a gorgeous texture. I like using milk chocolate, but only when I can get a good variety. Don’t use a Hershey bar for this one.


3 ounces good-quality milk or dark chocolate, chopped into pea-size pieces

1/2 cup sugar

2 tablespoons water

3/4 cup heavy cream or creme fraiche

1/2 teaspoon kosher salt, or more as needed

1/4 teaspoon pure vanilla extract, or more as needed

2 tablespoons cold unsalted butter


Step 1

Put the chocolate into a medium stainless-steel or nonreactive bowl.

Step 2

Combine the sugar and water in a medium, heavy-bottomed saucepan over medium-high heat. Stir a lot at first to dissolve the sugar. Once it is dissolved, boil, undisturbed, until it begins to turn light golden. At this point, the water has cooked off and the sugar is starting to caramelize.

Step 3

Continue cooking, carefully swirling the pan a bit so the caramelizing is even, until the syrup is a deep amber color, like the color of a strong iced tea; this should take between 8 and 12 minutes, and the process goes very fast, so watch closely. You might see the tiniest wisps of smoke coming from the syrup, too.

Step 4

Remove from the heat and immediately add about 1/4 cup of the heavy cream or creme fraiche and stir for a few seconds. The mixture is going to bubble and create a lot of steam. The caramel might seize up; this is all okay.

Step 5

Add the remaining cream. Return the pan to the stove top, over medium-low heat; cook for 3 or 4 minutes, stirring with a whisk or heatproof flexible spatula until smooth and slightly thickened.

Step 6

Add the salt and vanilla extract. Pour the hot caramel sauce over the chopped chocolate. Let it sit for 30 seconds or so, and then start whisking to encourage the chocolate to melt evenly. Taste a cooled-off portion and adjust the flavor with more salt or vanilla extract, as needed.

Step 7

Finish by whisking in the butter. Serve warm or cool; the sauce thickens as it cools, so to make it more pourable, just warm it up a bit.

From cookbook author Martha Holmberg.

Tested by Ali Sharman; email questions to voraciously@washpost.com.

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The nutritional analysis is per 2-tablespoon servings.


Calories: 180; Total Fat: 13 g; Saturated Fat: 8 g; Cholesterol: 35 mg; Sodium: 75 mg; Carbohydrates: 17 g; Dietary Fiber: 0 g; Sugars: 17 g; Protein: 1 g.