Like toffee, a true caramel sauce requires preparation, patience and a candy thermometer. My patience still needs a bit of work, and I don't particularly concern myself with temperatures, so good judgement will substitute just fine. But since this sauce evolves from a simple toffee, we must still follow the guidelines: do not stir a boiling sugar syrup, but do watch it like a hawk. Allow its colour to deepen into a real golden-brown, as it won't colour much further after the addition of butter and cream. Finally, keep in mind that half a teaspoon of salt gives an edge, but a full teaspoon gives a hit, so season to taste... What better excuse for a taste test?
1/2 cup caster sugar
1 tablespoon water
50g unsalted butter
3/4 cup thickened cream
1 teaspoon salt flakes
What to do:
Place the sugar and water into a small sauce over high heat. Stir until the syrup comes to the boil and then stop stirring. When the syrup turns a light yellow colour, swirl the pan once or twice. Continue to boil the syrup (without stirring) until it is a deep golden colour.
Reduce heat to low. Add the butter and swirl the pan a few times. Once the butter has melted, add the cream gradually, stirring between each addition to incorporate. Add 1/2 teaspoon of salt and stir until the sauce comes to the boil. Taste the sauce and add the remaining salt if you want. Boil the sauce for 5 minutes, remove from heat and allow to cool until required.