Recipes for caramel always look easy—and they’re all pretty damn similar—but they often require a certain set of magical steps during execution. And if you mess up just one step, your caramel will be broken.
We didn’t go to culinary school and neither did you, so we’re just going to go ahead and assume that if a recipe has a step that can go wrong and make the recipe “broken,” we would rather just buy caramel at the store.
Well, fear no more, because we’ve come up with a set of fool-proof tricks to ensure that you can make caramel sauce at home. And then you put bourbon in it. Win-win!
Trick No 1: Use a medium-sized pan that is fairly deep. We use a 1-quart pan because it is compact enough that the sugar water will be about an inch deep, because if the liquid is too shallow and too spread out it will burn. Also, we love the tall sides of a sauce pan because at the end of the process, when you add the cream and bourbon the liquid will bubble up like something in Walter White’s lab, so you need plenty of room for the caramel to expand and not overflow.
Trick No 2: Fill a pint glass with water and drop a silicone brush in the water. While the caramel cooks, occasionally use the brush to wipe down the bits of sugar that stick to the side of the pan above the liquid.
Trick No. 3: Be patient. Caramel is easy but it does take some time. Allow the sugars to caramelize and be patient. Your patience will be rewarded. That’s a promise.
Trick No. 4: Add some bourbon. While it’s not necessary to the creation of a caramel sauce, bourbon contains notes of vanilla and—wait for it—caramel, so it makes the perfect boozy addition to this recipe. And to class things up we add a little sea salt.
Bourbon Caramel Sauce
1 cup sugar
¼ cup water
1 cup heavy cream
2 tablespoons bourbon
½ teaspoon sea salt
Add the sugar and the water to a medium-sized saucepan over medium heat until the sugar dissolves. Raise the heat to high until it starts to bubble. Cook for about 10 minutes, until the liquid becomes an amber color. Remove the pan from the heat and add both the cream and the bourbon. Return to medium heat and stir until it becomes caramel. Serve over ice cream and a brownie. Or just eat it with a spoon. We won’t judge.