Caramel sauce goes with summer ice cream and summer desserts so well - we love a bowl of vanilla ice cream with rich caramel swirls. You can buy the stuff in a jar, or you can make caramel sauce yourself.
It's really quite easy, and one of the advantages is that you can control how dark the caramel turns out. We are fans of dark, nearly burnt caramel with just a pinch of salt. You decide if you want it that dark, or if you want it lighter and sweeter. All you need is a little sugar and cream, and the sauce will stay good for weeks in the fridge - ready for impromptu summer sundaes.
D.I.Y. Caramel Sauceabout 3 cups
2 cups cream
1 1/2 cups sugar
1/4 cup water
1/4 cup butter
Warm the cream in a small saucepan over low to medium heat. Don't let it boil; just keep it warm.
Stir the sugar and water together in a large, heavy, high-sided pan over high heat. Stir until the sugar dissolves, then stop stirring and allow it to boil until it reaches a deep amber color. This will take anywhere from 8 to 15 minutes, depending on your pan and your stove. You will see pale yellow streaks, then darker ones appear in the center of the bubbling sugar. When you see these, swirl the pan carefully by the handles and be attentive.
At the very first sign of smoke from your caramel, turn off the heat. By now it should be very dark amber. (You are looking for a dark caramel here, because you will be adding cream, so don't flinch and take it off the heat when it's still just pale gold!)
Immediately pour in the cream. Use a long-handled whisk to whisk it vigorously. Be very careful — the caramel is going to steam and bubble up violently! Add the butter and salt and whisk smooth. Return to medium heat and simmer for 5 minutes or until slightly reduced.
Let cool then pour into a jar and refrigerate. This will keep in the fridge for at least two weeks.
(Image: Faith Durand)