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Salted Caramel Sauce: Two Methods {VIDEOS}

In these TWO video tutorials for how to make the ultimate salted caramel sauce you will learn the dry caramel method and the wet caramel method! They both have same perfect result, so you can choose your favorite!

In these TWO video tutorials for how to make the ultimate salted caramel sauce you will learn the dry caramel method and the wet caramel method! They both have same perfect result, so you can choose your favorite!

Is there anything more beautiful than the slow pour of a perfectly amber salted caramel? Just gaze at it for a few seconds and appreciate the beauty of pastry. Sigh.

{Cough, cough} And we’re back!

It only took 4 years but I {finally} made a salted caramel video! It’s not just one, but two videos! One for the Dry Caramel method and one for the Wet Caramel method.

I used a different recipe than my original post. This is the recipe I use in the restaurant because it’s a bit thicker, which makes it ideal for baking or garnishing or just eating with a spoon.

Judge? Who me? Never.

In these TWO video tutorials for how to make salted caramel sauce you will learn the dry caramel method and the wet caramel method! They both have same perfect result, so you can choose your favorite!

Don’t sit there and give me the side-eye like Salted Caramel isn’t EVERYTHING. Because it is.

What else can be eaten on the sly with a spoon or can augment all the things?

Plus it’s like a personal challenge. Master that perfect caramel and the baking world is your oyster.

[Already a caramel master? Skip to the The Recipe!]

In these TWO video tutorials for how to make salted caramel sauce you will learn the dry caramel method and the wet caramel method! They both have same perfect result, so you can choose your favorite!

Let’s get a little technical shall we? Since my last post on caramel I’ve gone to pastry school and yielded to a life of making v large batches of salted caramel on the regs. I’ve got some knowledge for you…

 

First, just know that either method will give you the exact same result. It is about whichever you find easiest and most consistent for you in your kitchen. The choice is yours.

Now the difference between the two methods:

 

Dry Caramel Sauce:

A dry caramel is when you caramelize the sugar without adding any water or corn syrup.

Pros:

  • Your sugar syrup isn’t going to crystalize spontaneously from undissolved sugar crystals falling from the sides.
  • You can stir with a wooden spoon! [Please don’t put your plastic tools in there…they’ll melt and no one wants plastic in their caramel sauce.]
  • You can make a dry caramel sauce with the most basic ingredients: sugar, butter, cream. Done.
  • This is the fastest method for making a caramel.

Cons:

  • Dry caramel is more likely to get unincorporated sugar clumps because of the uneven heating. Swirl, and break up those clumps with the aforementioned wooden spoon!
  • You cannot walk away from a dry caramel. Just don’t. You’ll get burned pockets before you even get going. Remain vigilant. Do not break that caramel focus.
  • Dry caramel is more difficult on an induction burner than a gas burner. Just a sad fact of life.

Wet Caramel Sauce:

A wet caramel is when the sugar is hydrated with water before caramelizing. I have added corn syrup as an insurance policy against crystallization but it is not necessary to make a wet caramel. The amount of water isn’t important but do know that the more water you add, the longer the caramel will take because the water needs to evaporate before the sugar can caramelize. Not a big deal. Just something to know.

Pros:

  • You don’t need to sit and stare at the wet caramel cooking. You have a little time to wander before the real action happens. I mean don’t paint your nails – it’s not that much time!
  • The wet caramel method won’t give you those large chunks of unincorporated sugar because you hydrated it and separated the crystals.
  • Wet caramel is more induction burner friendly! I make giant batches of this wet caramel on an induction burner at work and it’s just peachy.

Cons:

  • If you aren’t thorough about washing the crystals off the sides of the pot at the beginning, then you have a chance of getting little crystals in your caramel. [I prefer to add my water so that I don’t have sugar on the side of my pot, but that’s just me.]
  • There is no stirring, only swirling allowed! This isn’t really a con, just a fact.

I know I’m not supposed to pick favorites between my pastry children, but I will make wet caramel 99.9% of the time unless I don’t have corn syrup or glucose. It is liberating to not have to stand and stir. I can just set it up and pop over to check on it and give it a swirl every now and again. However, once it gets to medium amber I watch it like a momma bear watches her cubs.

In these TWO video tutorials for how to make salted caramel sauce you will learn the dry caramel method and the wet caramel method! They both have same perfect result, so you can choose your favorite!

Let’s run through some general tips for caramel sauce making, because in pastry, as in life, being prepared is the number one step towards success!

The Rules of Caramel Sauce Engagement

  1. The #1 Rule of Caramel is remembering that you are in control. You control the heat of the stove; thus you control how fast the caramel is cooking. If your dry caramel is caramelizing too fast before all the sugar is melting, take it off the heat, break up those clumps and let the caramelized sugar melt the unincorporated sugar. If your butter hasn’t melted into your cream yet, take that caramel off the heat. You are in control.
  2. Dry Caramel: Don’t freak out when you see that parts are already a dark amber and you have a bunch of sugar unmelted. This happens every time. Embrace it. Stir the sugar crystals into those pockets. This will melt the granules and also lower the temperature of those pockets.
  3. If, despite your best efforts, you still have undissolved sugar pieces when your caramel reaches dark amber, don’t fret, just strain them out with a sieve. Worse things have happened in pastry.
  4. Combine your butter with your cream, vanilla and salt and bring it all to a boil in the beginning. This way it’s already hot when you add it to the hot caramel and it won’t seize.
  5. Don’t fear the caramel. Take precautions but don’t have fear. Fear makes people do dumb stuff or act erratically. Never act erratically around 340°F sugar. Make slow but purposeful movements. The worst thing that can happen is your sugar gets too dark and you have to start over. Trust me when I tell you that starting over is far better than getting caramel on your arm or face.
  6. Never stir a wet caramel! You will encourage sugar crystal formation – and these don’t dissolve like the clumps in a dry caramel in tip #2. They also are too small to be strained out.
  7. Use a whisk to add your wet ingredients at the end. Add them slowly to control the ferocity of the caramel but also don’t stop whisking! The whisking calms the caramel down.
  8. Don’t bother with a candy thermometer. You’re making caramel sauce, not solving a differential equation. There is no need to over complicate. Although I don’t suggest over complicating differential equations either.
  9. It is super important that after incorporating your cream/butter mixture you pour the caramel into a heat proof glass, ceramic or metal bowl. This will stop the cooking process or your caramel will continue to get darker especially in a larger batch.
  10. Practice makes perfect. Sometimes you don’t know what “too dark” is until you take it there. Then you know and next time you can add your cream/butter mixture earlier. When training new cooks, this is the best way for them to learn. I’m like Goldie Locks: too light, too dark, waaaay too dark, just right.

In these TWO video tutorials for how to make salted caramel sauce you will learn the dry caramel method and the wet caramel method! They both have same perfect result, so you can choose your favorite!

So your caramel sauce seized? Don’t worry. Put it back over low heat and continue to whisk until the seized portion reincorporates.

But Lindsey, why did it seize? You told me it wouldn’t because we brought our cream and butter to a boil.

Perhaps the cream mixture cooled down too much while making the caramel. That is what happened in my dry caramel video. I also show you how to fix it. Because remember the #1 Rule: you are in control!

Now what are you going to dooo with all this fabulous caramel? Maybe this ice cream, or this blondie, or maybe these cupcakes, or these cupcakes, or yet another ice cream, or when in doubt there is always salted caramel butter bars!
The Recipe

Salted Caramel Sauce: Two Methods {VIDEOS}

Prep Time: 5 minutes

Cook Time: 10 minutes

Total Time: 15 minutes

Yield: 2 Cups

Learn how to make the ultimate salted caramel sauce using BOTH the dry caramel method and the wet caramel method! They both have same perfect result, so you can choose your favorite!

Ingredients

    Dry Caramel:
  • 1 cup Heavy Cream (260g)
  • 4 Tablespoons Butter, cubed (57g)
  • ½ teaspoon Vanilla extract (2g)
  • ½ teaspoon Kosher Salt (2g)
  • 1 ½ cups Sugar (320g)
  • Wet Caramel:
  • 1 cup Heavy Cream (260g)
  • 4 Tablespoons Butter, cubed (57g)
  • ½ teaspoon Vanilla extract (2g)
  • ½ teaspoon Kosher Salt (2g)
  • 1 ½ cups Sugar (320g)
  • ¼ cup Water (75g)
  • ¼ cup light corn syrup (88g)

Instructions

    Dry Caramel Method:
  1. In a small pot combine cream, butter, vanilla and salt. Bring just to a boil and set aside.
  2. Heat a heavy bottomed pot with high sides over medium high heat. Begin by sprinkling the granulated sugar over the bottom in a thin layer, when that begins to melt, sprinkle some more. Keep sprinkling until all the sugar is in the pot. As parts begin to melt, gently stir with a wooden spoon and break up any clumps that form. Continue to stir to distribute the sugar into any hot spots and use the already melted sugar to melt the rest. Once the sugar has melted stop stirring and swirl until a dark amber color is achieved.
  3. If you have a hard time telling the color of the caramel, tilt the pot towards you so that there is only a thin layer. I find it easier to see that way. A medium amber is a perfectly acceptable color but I like to take mine to dark amber which is right when it starts to smoke but before it smells burnt.
  4. Remove from the heat and place on a trivet. Slowly pour in your cream/butter mixture while constantly whisking. You don’t want to add the cream too fast or it will bubble up aggressively and could burn you. Don’t fear, just keep whisking. 
Once all the liquid is incorporated, pour into a heat safe bowl (glass, ceramic, pyrex, metal are all fine). Allow to cool to room temperature then pour into the storage container of your choice.
  5. Wet Caramel Method:
  6. In a small pot combine cream, butter, vanilla and salt. Bring just to a boil and set aside.
  7. Pour the sugar into a heavy bottomed pot with high sides. Shake to distribute sugar in an even layer over the bottom. Pour the water around the edges and stir to hydrate the sugar. Stir carefully so that no sugar gets on the sides of the pot. If you did get sugar on the sides, don’t worry. Dip a clean pastry brush (or folded paper towel) in water and wash the sugar off. Don’t be concerned with the amount of water because it will all evaporate anyways.
  8. Pour the corn syrup into the sugar water mixture and turn on the burner to medium high. Allow the sugar to come to a boil before you disturb it. Gently swirl the pot but do not stir! This will allow you to redistribute the caramel around the pot and control the hot spots.
  9. Continue to cook and ocassionally swirl until a dark amber color is achieved.
  10. If you have a hard time telling the color of the caramel, tilt the pot towards you so that there is only a thin layer. I find it easier to see that way. A medium amber is a perfectly acceptable color but I like to take mine to dark amber which is right when it starts to smoke but before it smells burnt.
  11. Remove from the heat and place on a trivet. Slowly pour in your cream/butter mixture while constantly whisking. You don’t want to add the cream too fast or it will bubble up aggressively and could burn you. Don’t fear, just keep whisking. 
Once all the liquid is incorporated, pour into a heat safe bowl (glass, ceramic, pyrex, metal are all fine). Allow to cool to room temperature then pour into the storage container of your choice.
https://americanheritagecooking.com/2018/08/salted-caramel-sauce-video/

Did you make this recipe? I want to hear all about it! 🥳Tag me on Instagram @cheflindseyfarr and use the hashtag #americanheritagecooking

7 Comments

  • Nikki
    August 6, 2018 at 7:23 pm

    I have to tell you your caramel was the first that I had good luck making.
    Maybe it was luck maybe just my conviction that I could make a great caramel sauce.
    The photos of yours certainly were an influence that this was the stuff that I wanted!!!
    Now I will spend a weekend making 2 sauces just to see for myself and to taste what one is better. (gotta have an excuse to make both!)

    Reply
    • Lindsey
      August 7, 2018 at 9:41 am

      Hi Nikki! That makes me so happy! A woman’s conviction is a powerful thing! And I say any excuse to make caramel sauce is a good excuse! I think you should pit this recipe against the old one! The original is a dry caramel, so I say you make the old caramel and then the new wet caramel method in this post! I can’t wait to hear your results!

      Reply
  • Jodie
    August 18, 2018 at 6:40 am

    Hi, thanks for such an informative post! Just a couple of questions, can you tell me how long does this caramel sauce keep (I’m not sure it will actually be a problem, but will be good to know) and where should I store it? Also, do you think it would be suitable to use when flavouring an Italian Meringue Buttercream? Thanks 🙂

    Reply
    • Lindsey
      August 19, 2018 at 10:57 am

      Hi Jodie! I’m so glad you enjoyed it! Caramel Sauce is shelf stable for 2 weeks or for 2 months in the refrigerator. I would be lying if I said I hadn’t kept it longer 😉 It is 100% suitable for flavoring an IMB. Just as a bit at a time and taste. If you add way too much it will fall but I’ve had more trouble with adding jams than caramel. Happy baking!

      Reply
  • Kayle (The Cooking Actress)
    August 27, 2018 at 9:29 pm

    I love the details of both methods here! I’m a dry method gal but I love knowing the pros and cons of both!

    Reply
    • Lindsey
      October 4, 2018 at 5:32 pm

      Hey beautiful! xoxox Thanks for stopping by! I’m a wet caramel girl – i like being able to walk away 🙂

      Reply
  • […] Ps – You can use this Caramel Sauce recipe to make this ice cream but I also have a caramel sauce video tutorial!!! […]

    Reply

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