I’ve made this delicious, golden sauce for many years. We just call this classic caramel sauce Liquid Gold.
I first saw this recipe many years ago in Cooks Illustrated. I’ve made it so many times that it’s become a basic for me. But I recognize that caramelizing sugar can be a challenging task for the beginning cook. Read through the whole recipe before you begin, assemble all your materials in advance, and I know you can do it.
Caramel Sauce – Liquid Gold
2 cups granulated sugar
1/3 cup water
2 TB light corn syrup
1 cup heavy cream
1/2 tsp. salt
Pour the water into a heavy, light-colored sauce pan with a lid. Pour the sugar into the pan, aiming the sugar into the center of the pan. The idea is to avoid having dry sugar crystals in contact with the sides of the pan. The water should rise above the sugar on the sides of the pan. There will be a mound of remaining dry sugar in the center. Add the corn syrup. Gently draw a spoon or knife through the remaining dry sugar in the center of pan to barely moisten the sugar. It’ll feel sort of cement-like, and the sugar will not be dissolved in the cold water.
Cover the pan and place on a medium high flame. Keep the pan covered until the sugar/water mixture comes to a rolling boil. You should be able to hear the boiling liquid. It’s OK to peek, but replace the lid if the mixture isn’t yet at a full boil. The sugar will have dissolved by this time. Once the mixture is at a full rolling boil, remove the lid.
While you are waiting for the sugar/water mixture to boil, warm the cream. Pour the cream and salt into a glass measuring cup, and heat until warm in the microwave. Stir to dissolve the salt. Set aside.
Now the magic happens. After a couple minutes (5 – 7?) the clear sugar syrup will begin to turn golden, then darker. Using a long metal or wooden mixing spoon, gently stir the caramelizing syrup. When the color of the boiling syrup is the color of a good cup of tea (light brownish), turn off the heat and slowly pour in a couple tablespoons of the warmed cream. Stir with a metal whisk or spoon to incorporate. warning! The caramel will bubble very vigorously when you first add the cream, so be aware. Then add a few more TB of warmed cream, and stir. Repeat until the cream is all incorporated. You’ll be able to just pour in the last 1/2 cup or so, as the mixture will have cooled down enough and the cream won’t cause such a strong bubbling reaction.
Cool to room temp before using. This sauce can be thinned with a little cream if it’s too thick.