This stuff is my achilles heal! I try not to make it often if I can help it, but this time of year just calls for it!!
Put everything in the cold pan... everything (brown sugar, butter, vanilla, and heavy cream), and let all the ingredients heat and melt together before turning the heat up.
Once everything is melted turn the heat up to medium and watch as it starts to bubble!
The bubbling will start around the edge of the pan before moving to the center. Once everything is "boiling" keep an eye on it so it doesn't boil over, and throw a thermometer in there (my meat thermometer doesn't go up to 250, so I just wait till it reached 220 and then wait it a couple of min till I thinks probably 250 before I take the caramel off the heat.)
You're going to want to stir it- try to ignore this urge! A little stirring is okay- but too much will result in grainy caramel (which still taste great!)
Whenever you feel like it, pull the mixture off the stove. Let cool or be a daredevil and give it a taste.
This is my caramel recipe- I don't really measure anything, but if I did it would probably look something like this:
2 ish cups brown sugar
1 stick butter (I've used both salted and unsalted and I couldn't tell you the difference if there was one...)
1.5 Tb Vanilla
4-6 Tbs heavy cream
What I've found is once you've gotten your butter to melt into the Brown sugar, cream, and vanilla, then you want to mix it in before heating everything up to 250*
250* is the softball stage- meaning your caramel will be soft and chew- perfect for drizzling on everything or in coffee! If it gets hotter then it will result in the hardball stage resulting in, well, hard candies. However, the more cream you use he more difficult it is to make the harder caramel. So, if you prefer hard caramel candies, then I would suggest using less cream.
Results may vary- The first time I made it it was smooth and creamy- perfect for ice cream or apple crisp! The second time I made it it was super grainy, and the third time I made it it was smooth, but stiffer- better for caramel apples.
Final note: if you, in a weak moment, stir the caramel you my create sugar crystals. If those crystals are carried into whatever container you are using to store said caramel, the crystals may (most likely) create a chain reaction, and you will find that your caramel is lumpy like crunchy peanut butter. It's still good. Just crunchy and not as appealing to the eyeballs- so I hope you're not trying to impress anyone! ;)
The one thing that is consistent is the taste!!! And if you're as big of a caramel fan as I am, that's all that matters!
Well, the only other thing that really matters is if you say: Car-mel or Cara-mel...
I'm one of those "car-mel" people. Which one are you?
Photos by : Alysa Rene Photography