Recipe: Homemade 3-Ingredient Caramel, Gluten-Free, Nut-Free

As part of the continuing #cook90 Epicurious challenge, and expanding my food world and go-to recipes, I’m continuing to create a new recipe a week and it's MARCH!

So…vanilla and caramel and butterscotch, these flavors speak to my deepest foodie dreams.  Recently, I delved into caramel sauce making. Luckily the ingredients are not expensive because it took fully four tries before I created the perfect batch.

I found what looked like an excellent recipe from Serious Eats.  Here are the author’s reasons why this method is easiest and works. And here’s Stella’s recipe on Serious Eats

I made no changes but still the first time it didn't work for me; the sugar never caramelized. I wrote to the author on Twitter and we had a lively exchange where she guided me step by step on pan size, pan diameter and heat needs. The second time it worked beautifully but I wasn't in love with the salted aspect; it grew on me but still it wasn't the caramel of my dreams. 

The third time, I let it go 5 seconds past “amber” and it was too dark. Edible, in fact I know some people would love it on that edge of burned but alas, not for me.

The fourth time, I turned up the heat, after 10 minutes the colored showed, I swirled, took it off the heat a hair past amber and swirled in my heavy cream.  It cooled into the perfect most delectable scrumptious caramel sauce. Oh joy!

Some recipe notes: 

My pan is heavy-bottom 3 quart with a 7.5 inch diameter, which means that the second stage took a full 10 minutes and needed a little hotter than medium heat to get the sugar to caramelize. Pan size matters here.

When you buy heavy cream, read the ingredients. Yes, there can be more ingredients in heavy cream other than cream. There’s shouldn't be but there be. So look for a safe for you brand. I’ve used Whole Foods 365 and Natural-By-Nature with great results. Read the labels. 

I made caramel using the below four ingredients with Serious Eats directions.

Also one more pro tip, it turns too dark/burns really quickly, as in will go from gorgeous perfect amber to oh no – dark brown - so really keep and eye on it. Go under versus over when it comes to amber as it will darken as it cools.


Recipe: Three-ingredient Salted Caramel: Nut-Free, Gluten-Free
Barely adapted from Serious Eats
(I went with grams here to really get the weight correct)

115g  water (1/2 cup)
240g Domino white sugar (1 1/4 cups)
2g Diamond Crystal Kosher salt
225g Natural by Nature heavy cream (1 cup) 

Follow Serious Eats directions, lightly adapted below. 

In a 3-quart stainless steel saucier, combine water, sugar, and salt over medium heat. Stir with a fork until syrup comes to a boil, about 4 minutes, then boil without stirring until syrup is honey-colored, roughly 10 minutes, shaking and swirling as needed to ensure even caramelization. Continue cooking until syrup is light to medium amber, a minute more. Immediately add cream and reduce heat to medium-low.

Stirring constantly with a heat-resistant spatula to knock back the foam, simmer about 3 minutes. Transfer to a heat-resistant container, and cool to room temperature. Caramel will be runny while warm, but thicken as it cools, turning just a little chewy when cold. Refrigerate up to 1 month in an airtight container.


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