I’m not a huge drinker.
In college, I was that girl who always ordered the “fluffy” drinks with mounds of whipped cream…then I’d basically just eat the whipped cream and leave the alcohol part to sit and fester at the bottom of my cup.
Oh, who am I kidding; I’m that girl now! I just can’t hold my liquor, and need a wildly disproportionate ratio of heavy cream to actual alcohol before I obtain any enjoyment out of the experience.
However, that said – I love boozy desserts. There is something so wonderful about the warmth and depth of flavor that alcohol brings to desserts, especially on a cold winter’s evening.
So this morning, as the snow fell and I gazed upon our freshly decorated Christmas tree, I thought, what better thing to do today than make a warm and ooey gooey dessert? A caramel sauce perhaps…
Are you still with me? Good.
Because I need you to do something for me:
Forget everything you’ve ever heard about making caramel. Particularly the part about it being difficult to master.
Because.It’s. So. Easy.
I promise. (And I’m a girl of my word).
Last year was the first time I tried making caramel sauce, and as most people do when in need of guidance, I turned to Google. After browsing a great many food websites and blog posts, I realized that written instruction wouldn’t be enough: I needed a video to break it down for me.
That was when I found this on YouTube. The guy who made this video is awesome. His instructions are simple to follow, and he captures every step of the process on video, explaining things like color, safety, and storage. If you’ve never made caramel before, I highly recommend that you watch his video. Then make this recipe, of course 🙂
I used this guy’s basic recipe for caramel sauce, but decided to add my own twist: Kentucky Bourbon Whiskey. And it couldn’t have been easier!
More importantly to note, I made this caramel sauce without:
1) A candy thermometer (GASP. I know.)
2) Extensive candy making experience.
If I can do it, you can do it too!
I hope you enjoy this warm, fragrant, and rich caramel sauce. It’s perfect as an accompaniment to your holiday desserts, or drizzled atop a simple vanilla sundae.
For added gluttony, add some Moonshine Cherries:
Vanilla Bourbon Caramel Sauce
Yield: a little over two cups
You will need:
1.5 cups of sugar (cubed or loose)
1/2 cup of water
1 cup of heavy cream
2.5 tablespoons of butter (salted or unsalted…i never use unsalted anything, but if you don’t enjoy over salting everything like I do, you might want to go the unsalted route)
Healthy pinch of salt
1 tsp of good vanilla extract (I like this)
1 tablespoon of bourbon (not gunna lie – I ended up using two tablespoons and some extra, but adjust to your flavor preference.)
1. In a medium saucepan, pour in sugar and cover it with water. Don’t mix. Heat over medium high heat until sugar reaches a rolling boil.
2. Continue boiling for about ten to fifteen minutes. DON’T TOUCH. Not even a little. Just let it do its thing. (See how easy this is?).
3. Once the sugar has been boiling for fifteen minutes or so, it will start to turn a light amber color. At this point, you will know that you are almost done. Watch it like a hawk! As sugar changes from a light amber to a rich amber (and begins to smell like caramel), remove from heat. Remember that it will continue cooking slightly once you remove from heat.
4. Carefully but quickly whisk in a quarter cup of the cream. BE CAREFUL. The cool cream will cause an intense amount of steam to rise up from the caramel. Mix furiously, taking care to scrape the bottom and edges of the pan. Continue adding cream, a quarter cup at a time, until completely incorporated. If you add the cream too quickly, the caramel will seize up, but don’t worry – just place the saucepan over low heat and stir until caramel melts again.
5. Add the butter and stir until incorporated.
6. Add in the tsp of vanilla, and a healthy pinch of salt (you can always add more).
7. Now for the fun part: add in the bourbon, tasting as you go. I love a rich, boozy flavor, so I’m pretty liberal with the amount that I incorporate, but a tablespoon is a good starting point.
Let cool slightly before you add to your dessert. Enjoy!