Caramel sauce a.k.a. one of the purest joys the pastry world has ever given us.
For the second installment of Pastry Pro we’re tackling caramel sauce. Velvety, smooth caramel sauce. Like whipped cream, it’s a few simple ingredients, a small turn of technique, and then sheer pastry bliss.
Here are the basics. Stir water and sugar together over medium heat until it turns into a clear, homogeneous syrup. This happens at roughly 320°F. Stop stirring once the syrup starts to boil and keep a close eye until the sugar caramelizes. This happens somewhere around 340-350°F. Add cream, and you have yourself a batch of divine caramel sauce.
Technically, you don’t need a thermometer, and you certainly don’t need to know those temperatures like you would when you’re making toffee or soft caramels. That information is for my dear pastry nerds. All you need to look for is color.
I like my caramel a little more bitter and a little less sweet. So I look for a deep amber color. If you want something a little more sweet, remove it from the stove once it looks golden amber. Wondering what in Beyonce’s good earth amber even looks like? Take a peek at the video below. I pulled my caramel off the heat when it reached this color.
Two more things. Sometimes your caramel will start to color in one spot in your pan. Resist the urge to stir it with a whisk, and instead, gently swirl the pan by the handle. Also, caramel will always look darker in the pot. Think of how water looks blue in the pool, but if you were to scoop out a cup’s worth, it’d be clear. I gently tilt the pan to get a better idea of what the true color is. If you want to be super sure, you can stick a metal spatula in the caramel to get the best idea of the caramel’s color.
- ½ cup cold water
- 1 ½ cups sugar
- 1 cup heavy cream
- In a medium sauce pan over medium-high heat, stir together water and sugar until melted.
- Stop stirring once the mixture starts to boil. Use a pastry brush dipped in water to wash away any granulated sugar on the side of the pan.
- Keep a close watch, and allow to cook to a deep amber color.
- Remove from heat and carefully stir in cream. Go slowly, as the cream will bubble up.
- Return the sauce pan to low heat and stir until smooth, about a minute.
- Use immediately or cool to room temperature before storing in the refrigerator for up to a month.
- The original recipe is doubled. I don't normally have a use for that much caramel, so I always half it. But your caramel sauce prerogatives are your caramel sauce prerogatives.