How to Make Salted Caramel Sauce

On the final day of my #FeastPDX experience, I got to take a couple of cooking classes. I briefly mentioned them in my Day 3 recap, but I forgot to share a special recipe with you: Salted Caramel Sauce!

Pretezel Making at Home by Andrea Slonecker

This recipe for Salted Caramel Sauce is adapted from Andrea Slonecker's book, Pretzel Making at Home. Andrea was a fabulous instructor and was kind enough to give me permission to reprint this for all of you.

Before I jump into the recipe, I need to tell you about a special substitution of ingredients we made in our class. It's not reflected in this list of ingredients, but I did make a special note of it in the instructions. Rather than using 1/2 a vanilla bean and 1 1/2 tsp fine sea salt, we used a combined ingredient, Vanilla Bean Flake Salt, from another FeastPDX find: Jacobsen Salt. Lucky for us, they have an on-line shop, so you don't have to go all the way to Oregon to get this special salts... unless you really want to visit the picturesque Oregon coast, which I highly recommend.

Anyway... here's the best Salted Caramel Sauce you will ever make: 

Salted Caramel Sauce

  • Makes 2 cup/ 480 ml
  • 1 1/2 cups (360 ml) heavy whipping cream
  • 1/2 vanilla bean*
  • 1 cup (200 g) granulated sugar
  • 1 tbsp light corn syrup (helps prevent crystallization of the sugar)
  • 4 tbsp cold unsalted butter, cubed
  • 1 1/2 tsp fine sea salt (such as fleur de sel or sel gris)*
*Should you be one of the fortunate gourmands to have Vanilla Bean Flake Salt in your possession, you can just skip ahead to Step 2 and start with the sugar.  Needless to say... all good things start with Sugar. ;)

1. Pour the cream into a small saucepan. Slit the vanilla bean lengthwise down the center and use the back of the knife to scrape out the seeds into the cream; add the pod. Warm the vanilla cream mixture over medium-high heat until it is foamy around the edges, stirring occasionally. Discard the empty vanilla pod and set the vanilla cream aside.

How to Make Salted Caramel Sauce

2. Using a heatproof silicone spatula or wooden spoon, stir together the sugar, corn syrup, and 1/4 cup (60 ml) of water in a 2-qt (2 L) heavy saucepan over medium heat until the sugar dissolves and the liquid is clear. Increase the heat to high and stop stirring. Boil the sugar mixture until it turns deep amber, 5 to 7 minute, swirling the pan from time to time to cook the sugar evenly. (Note that once it begins to brown, the color quickly darkens and the sugar burns easily. Use a wet pastry brush to wipe down any crystallized sugar that accumulates on the sides of the pan.)

3. Remove the pan from the heat and VERY SLOWLY pour in the warm vanilla cream. The mixture will violently bubble and spatter, almost to the point of overflowing, so take your time pouring in the cream. It's also wise to wear an oven mitt on the hand holding the pan.

4. Return the pan to medium heat and whisk to melt any solidified caramel, about 1 minute. Remove the pan from the heat and whisk in the butter and salt. Cool the caramel for at least a few minutes before serving, or cool it completely and serve it at room temperature.  

The Salted Caramel Sauce will keep in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 2 weeks... if it even lasts that long!