I love caramel in pretty much everything, really. One of my top favourites has to be vanilla ice-cream topped with caramel sauce. Caramel sauces and toppings found in stores quite frequently have a very runny texture and I don't like that, so I make my own. Making caramel sauce from scratch in your own kitchen is very easy, much easier than people think. Just sugar, butter and cream. Takes less than 15 minutes and you have a lovely, glistening, golden sauce to top your desserts with. The best part is that you made it yourself, you know exactly what it contains, and you can control the texture.
Just please be careful when you are cooking the sugar. Melted sugar has a much higher temperature than even boiling water and it sticks to the skin, making it much harder to deal with. Never touch melted sugar or hot caramel with your hands. Be careful when adding the butter and cream, as it will bubble up and possibly splatter. To make sure it will not splatter on you, use a saucepan with high sides and pour away from yourself, carefully.
200 grams granulated sugar
4 tablespoons cold water
2 tablespoons butter, diced
150 ml heavy cream
1 teaspoon vanilla
Pour the granulated sugar into a heavy-bottomed saucepan and shake it well, so the sugar distributes evenly on the bottom of the pan. It is best to use a pan that is light in colour, so that you can easily see how your caramel changes colours. Pour the water over the sugar and place the saucepan on medium high heat. Let it come to a boil and cook it, without stirring or moving the pan, for about 8-10 minutes, you need it to be a dark amber colour. If you stir while it cooks, the sugar will form crystals on the sides of the pan, so refrain from doing that.
Once the sugar is cooked to an amber colour, quickly add the diced butter and gently swirl the pan to help the butter melt. When the butter has completely disappeared into the cooked sugar, remove the pan from the heat and add the heavy cream and vanilla. Swirl the pan gently, then return it to the heat for a just a moment, so everything blends well. Remove the sauce from the heat and let it cool for a few minutes in the pan, then pour it into a jar or a bottle and let it cool to your liking. Yields 300 ml of caramel sauce (a bit over 1 cup).Note: The sauce will seem too runny when it's hot, but it will thicken up significantly when it cools down.