This Homemade Caramel Sauce tastes a hundred times better than what you can buy from the store, and it's simple to make.
Add the sugar to a heavy bottomed saucepan, then shake it so it lies in an even, flat layer.
Add the water to fully moisten the sugar.
Place the pot over medium heat and cook until the sugar dissolves and turns clear, a few minutes.
Raise the heat to medium high, and cook the caramel until it turns amber colored**, about 10 minutes.
Turn the heat off and immediately add the heavy cream. It's okay if the caramel seizes up.
Add the butter and stir everything together until the caramel smooths out. If it's still clumpy, turn the heat back on to medium, and gently stir for a few minutes until it's smooth. When finished cooking, add vanilla extract, if desired.
Let the caramel sauce cool to room temperature, then transfer to a jar and refrigerate.
The caramel can be stored in the refrigerator for 1 month, or in the freezer for 3 months.
If you want to add salt to the caramel, stir in 1/2 tsp at the end along with the vanilla extract.Yields about 1 cup caramel sauce.*You can also use unsalted butter, then salt to taste. Start with 1/8 tsp.**If you have a thermometer, the temperature target window is between 338 and 350F. Above 350 and you'll start to smell (and later taste) a burned, bitter quality. Below 338, and you won't have proper color and caramelization.