How to Make Caramel Sauce
Aimee HerringDon't buy the jarred stuff at the market -- it's easy to make your own caramel sauce with these tips from Chef Todd Knaster of The Culinary Institute of America. He begins by adding 2 ounces of water to a pan, along with 5 ounces of corn syrup and 7 ounces of of sugar. (The corn syrup is what makes the sauce nice and gooey.) As it comes to a boil, stir constantly, then stop stirring once the mixture is bubbling vigorously. At this point, it's a good idea to wash down the sugar crystals forming on the side of the pan with a wet pastry brush. Once the sugar begins to pick up some color, watch it closely, since sugar burns easily. You want to swirl the pan to make sure it cooks evenly, then turn off the heat when you've achieved a deep golden color. At this point, you add the 13 ounces of heavy cream, but do it very slowly so the caramel doesn't seize. Take the pan off the heat and add in the butter, a pinch of salt, and vanilla extract. The sauce will still be very hot at this point, so if you need to cool it quickly, pour it into a bowl and set that bowl over a larger bowl of ice water.
For 60 years, The Culinary Institute of America has been setting the standard for excellence in professional culinary education. In this video series, experienced chefs and educators show you how to tackle essential cooking techniques.
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More on Caramel and Sweet Sauces:
- Watch Gail Simmons make her Salted Caramel Pecan Pie.
- Find more caramel recipes, including caramel rice pudding and caramel-pecan brownies.
- Try Curtis Stone's mango chutney for a sauce that's both sweet and savory.
- Want fondue? The CIA shows you how to make chocolate fondue.
- Or, try Marcus Sameulsson's fondue recipe.
Hi, I'm Chef Knaster from the Culinary Institute of America, and I'm going to show you this kitchen basic: how to make caramel sauce.
Today we're going to make caramel sauce, which basically is a mixture of sugar, corn syrup, cream, butter, and a little vanilla. I'm going to start off adding some water into a pot, two ounces of water, and five ounces of corn syrup. The corn syrup's going to give you that nice gooey caramel texture. Then I'll add seven ounces of sugar. When you're cooking any kind of sugar mixture, you want to make sure you stir it the entire time until it comes up to a boil, just to help make sure the sugar gets dissolved. We're going to cook it over high heat until it comes up to a boil, stirring the whole time. Then you don't want to stir any more until it is done cooking.
The sugar's going to get on the sides of the pot a little, so you want to be careful, and get all those washed off the sides of the pot. Use just a little water with a pastry brush, to try to wash all those crystals away. If you don't wash the sugar crystals off the sides of the pot, they can end up going back into the sugar mixture and cause it to get grainy or crystallized. I'll do this a few times within the first three or four minutes, and then I'm not going to do that any more because during the sugar cooking process I'm evaporating the water, so if I keep washing down the sides of the pot too much I'm just adding water back in there. Maybe two times in the first three or four minutes is fine.
At this point I"m not stirring; I'm just going to let it cook. Again, that's to make sure it stays nice and smooth. The more water we evaporate, the higher the temperature's getting, until eventually it's going to turn to that nice caramel color. It might take about eight to ten minutes for that to happen.
We're getting a nice caramel color. I'm going to turn the heat down on the pot, and swirl it to get it to cook more evenly. Now the sugar's caramelized; we have a nice, dark caramel color. You want it to look nice and dark in the pot like this, so that you get a real strong caramel flavor.
Now on very low heat I'm going to start to add the cream. We're adding thirteen ounces of heavy cream. The sugar's very hot, and the cream is cool or room temperature, and if you add it too fast it's going to seize up - so we add just a tablespoon at a time, using a whisk. When you see it's not foaming up as much you can start to add the cream a little faster. Then off the heat, I'm going to add the vanilla and the salt. Vanilla is basically alcohol, so you always want to add any extracts off the heat so you don't evaporate all the flavor out.
Once you see all the cream is incorporated, you can turn off the heat. I'm going to add in the butter, which is nice and soft, a pinch of salt, and the vanilla extract. Stir to combine all that. So now that we've got everything incorporated, I'm going to start to cool it down. I pour it from the pot into a bowl, and put that bowl in a bowl of ice water. I'm going to stir for a few minutes until it's just slightly warm.
I've been cooling it down for a few minutes, and it's looking nice, so I think we're ready. Here's our finished caramel sauce.
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