- 1 cup sugar
- 1/4 cup water
- 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 2/3 cup heavy whipping cream, at room temperature
- 1–2 teaspoons coarse sea salt (optional)
- Place the sugar and water in a 3-quart saucepan with high sides. Pick up the pan and rotate it to get the water into all the sugar. Place the pan over medium heat and cook until the sugar has dissolved. Do not stir the mixture at all.
- The mixture will begin to bubble. Let the sugar mixture cook for 8-10 minutes more. Again, do not stir the mixture at all while its bubbling.
- The color of the mixture will turn from clear to light amber to golden amber to slightly darker amber. Do not let it get too dark. Make sure you stand there and carefully watch the hot sugar mixture because it can burn very quickly.
- Remove the pan from the heat when the mixture turns darker amber and whisk in the butter very slowly. Once the butter is mixed in, VERY slowly add the cream while whisking constantly. Note the hot sugar will bubble very fiercely when you add the cream but just keep whisking.
- Return the pan to the heat and let the caramel boil for 1 minute. Remove the pan fro the heat and stir in the salt for salted caramel if desired.
- Let the caramel mixture cool before spooning into a jar. Store the caramel in the refrigerator for up to one month. You may need to warm it up slightly in the microwave or allow it to come to room temperature before using.
- For caramel topping: Use 4 tablespoons of butter and 1 1/3 cup whipping cream in the recipe.