Homemade caramel sauce, how do I love thee? Let me count the ways. I love you because you are the perfect gift for any occasion and pretty much anyone on my list. I love you because you are decadent and luscious and a delicious splurge that is worth every single calorie. I love you because by investing a mere 20 minutes of my time, I can transform inexpensive ingredients that I already have in my frig and pantry into something that might just be the nectar of the gods. Every single time I have given you as a gift, the reviews have been nothing short of glowing.
A JAR OF CARAMEL SAUCE, REALLY?
Really! Caramel sauce is one of those foods that’s universally loved. You can add it to ice cream, use it as a dip for apples, drizzle it over popcorn…the possibilities are endless. It is one of those things in life that is adored, but seldom purchased for oneself.
CAN’T I JUST BUY CARAMEL SAUCE?
No. No. No. It’s not nearly as good as homemade. Besides, if you’re giving it as a gift, the person knows you invested a part of yourself in making it.
I’VE HEARD IT’S REALLY HARD TO MAKE…
Remember when you first learned to drive? You thought that was hard. Now, I’m quite sure you can back out of a parking space without even thinking about it! Like most things in life, making caramel sauce might take a bit of practice…but I promise, if you can scramble eggs, you can do it.
HOW EXACTLY DO I MAKE IT?
There are lots of recipes out there. I particularly like the one from Brown Eyed Baker because it requires just a few ingredients—heavy cream, butter, and sugar. (You can add sea salt if you like. I always do.) Plus, she provides step-by-step photos so you can easily follow along.
One thing that I can’t emphasize enough—the sugar goes from underdone to burnt in a matter of seconds. If you do burn the sugar, scrap it and start again—burnt sugar has a bitter, unpleasant taste. Besides, a cup of sugar costs about $0.20, so a redo won’t break the bank.
SO I JUST GIVE A JAR OF CARAMEL SAUCE?
Sure! Or, you can add some items that complement it—a pint of ice cream, some fruit, shortbread cookies, popcorn, brownies, a loaf of Brioche (think bread pudding or French toast)… Caramel sauce also pairs well with various wines, in particular an Italian sparkling wine or a Sauternes.
WHAT OCCASIONS IS IT APPROPRIATE FOR
The beauty of homemade caramel sauce is that it’s appropriate for ANY occasion! Here are just a few examples:
• Housewarming-“Here’s to your home sweet home!”
• Hostess Gift-“It was sweet of you to invite us over!”
• Anniversary-“To One of the Sweetest Couples I Know”
• Birthday Wishes-“May you have the sweetest year ever!”
• For the Expectant Mom-“Until your sweet little one arrives, here’s a bit of sweet.”
• You Got Engaged-“May this caramel sauce be as sweet as your love story.”
• You Got Divorced-“Sweetness is in your future.”
• You Got Your Braces Off-“No more worries about ooey-gooey stuff! Congratulations and enjoy!”
HAVE YOU HEARD WE HAVE A HEALTH EPIDEMIC IN THIS COUNTRY?
Sadly, yes! Eating a balanced diet full of healthy foods is always a smart idea, but some occasional sweets in moderation can be a wonderful treat.
ANYTHING ELSE I SHOULD KNOW?
Making caramel sauce also provides some life lessons. As the pure white sugar transforms into an amber liquid, it’s a reminder that what you start with may be completely different from what you end up with. The constant whisking is an exercise in both patience and undivided attention—skills that can sometimes be in short supply. The investment of your time will not only provide a heartfelt gift for someone special, it will also fill your house with the most amazing aroma. Proving once again, that when you give, you receive even more.