Interestingly, one of my most popular posts is the one where I experimented with boiling down and adding salt to storebought caramel syrup, in an effort to make a decent salted caramel sauce. I promised then that I would eventually post my recipe for a truly decadent salted butter caramel sauce, so here it is!
It takes a little time, since you have to let it cool down naturally to avoid graininess (or so I’ve been told, I’ve never tested a faster chilling method), and it does require an immersion blender to get that nice, silky texture, but it’s worth it.
Salted Butter Caramel
(makes 2 cups)
200 g sugar
¼ cup water
2 tbs. corn syrup/golden syrup (optional, see Note 1)
2 tsp. vanilla
200 g cream, warmed to at least room temperature
5 g kosher salt (or to taste)
140 g unsalted butter, chilled and cut into cubes
1. In a heavy saucepan, combine sugar, water, and syrup, and bring to a boil. Do not stir once it starts bubbling. You can swirl the pan gently, though.
2. The bubbling will get faster, then will slow down as the mixture thickens. Watch carefully until the color turns a nice, toasty golden-brown. You may want to let it go a little further than this for extra flavor– the cream and butter will tone down any slightly burnt notes.
3. Once the sugar reaches 335 degrees F (or it looks and smells dark enough to make a nice deep caramel), remove from heat and whisk in the cream a few tablespoons at a time. Careful– it will bubble up a lot on each addition!
4. Add vanilla and salt, then let the mixture cool to about 100 degrees F.
5. Add butter cubes a few at a time, using an immersion blender to blend until smooth. I will note that this particular batch ended up a bit light in color and runnier than usual– I don’t think I let it cook long enough to get to the proper temperature, so don’t make this mistake!
6. Transfer to jars or another airtight container and refrigerate until ready to use.
- If you omit the corn syrup you will get a firmer texture in your finished caramel– it’ll be less of a sauce and more of a filling. Better for sandwiching cookies but not so great for spooning over desserts. It’s just a matter of preference, really.
- The emulsification of the butter is crucial to the smooth, creamy texture of this caramel. If you try to heat it after refrigerating, it’ll immediately loosen into a thin, drippy sauce and will not firm up again properly when re-chilled. I made this mistake when trying to use it to drip down the sides of a Thanksgiving pumpkin cake, so keep that in mind!