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This classic homemade caramel sauce recipe uses only three ingredients. Drizzle around chocolate puddings or over your favourite ice cream
Tip the sugar into a heavy-based frying pan, stir in 4 tbsp water, then place over a medium heat until the sugar has dissolved. Turn up the heat and bubble for 4-5 mins until you have caramel. Take off the heat, then carefully stir in the cream and butter. Leave the sauce to cool, then tip into a squeezy bottle.
Caramel is made by heating sugar, most often with water in a saucepan until the sugar dissolves and a chemical reaction takes place. This happens at around 160-180C making caramel quite dangerous to work with. At this point the sugar will have already dissolved if using water and starts to brown and take on different flavour notes. A good caramel should be taken to a deep amber colour and taken off and stopped cooking any further at the point where it is on the edge of burning.
You should use refined white granulated or caster sugar to make caramel. Avoid using brown sugar or raw cane sugar as they contain impurities that inhibit caramelisation and also the already brown colour can make it harder to assess when the all important reaction is taking place.
Look for visual signs - the mixture should be a dark golden colour and give off a nutty toasted aroma. If you have a sugar thermometer, it should have reached around 170C.
After the caramel cools down, pour it into a lidded glass jar or heat proof container. If storing in the fridge, it may solidify as it cools, but you can heat it in the microwave or on the hob to loosen it again. Any stubborn sticky caramel left on the pan or a spoon can be boiled off by adding water and heating to dissolve it.
Caramel made with cream can be stored in a jar in the fridge for up to 1 week. You can freeze it once cooled in a Tupperware container or freezer bag and it will last for 3 months.
There are other ways to make caramel. Some don’t use butter or cream and just use sugar such as the one in this traditional French floating islands with caramel sauce. A caramel sauce can also be made out of muscovado sugar and golden syrup which replicate the flavour of caramel which becomes even sweeter with the addition of a contrasting touch of sea salt. Try these waffles with banana and salted caramel sauce.
Looking for ideas on how to eat your caramel now you have mastered the technique? This easy caramel cake is a great showstopper.