Making my own caramel sauce is something I was always afraid to do. I heard horror stories about burning the sugar, which I did the first time! I finally decided to conquer my fear of making caramel sauce, and I was so excited to see that it's really not that hard to do. This particular recipes yields a thinner caramel sauce-- much like what you would find in a "Flan" custard dessert. Unlike the kind of caramel sauce you might pour over ice cream, butter and heavy cream isn't added. I used this recipe for a Panna Cota ("Cooked Milk" dessert-- and I even added some Grand Marnier to kick the flavor up a notch. Once I refrigerated the sauce, it thickened beautifully. I used the rest to flavor a vanilla buttercream frosting into a lovely caramel frosting.
Adapted from foodiewife-kitchen.blogspot.com
Equipment needed: Heavy skillet or a thick bottomed pan whisk NOTE: Be sure to have all of your ingredients ready before First, before you begin, make sure you have everything ready to go - the water and the alcohol (if using) next to the pan, ready to put in. Making caramel is a fast process that cannot wait for hunting around for ingredients. If you don't work fast, the sugar will burn. Safety first - make sure there are no children under foot and you may want to wear oven mitts; the caramelized sugar will be much hotter than boiling water. In a heavy skillet, and place over medium-high heat, spread the sugar evenly. As the sugar begins to melt, stir vigorously with a whisk or wooden spoon. As soon as the sugar comes to a boil, stop stirring. You can swirl the pan a bit if you want, from this point on. Note that this recipe works best if you are using a thick-bottomed pan. The sugar should turn to a dark amber--about 2-3 minutes. Very carefully, stir in 1/2 cup warm water (I used 1/4 cup water and 3 Tbsp. of Grand Marnier) and bourbon. It will bubble, but don't panic! Stir until combined, and remove from heat to cool to room temperature. The sauce will be a very thin consistency. This is perfect for serving with a panna cota. If you refrigerate this sauce, it will thicken and is perfect for flavoring a vanilla butter cream or looks very pretty drizzled over a piece of cheesecake, ice cream or frosted cupcakes.