One of my personal culinary goals has been to make homemade caramel. I tried making a caramel buttercream back in the spring and it was an utter failure. I burned two batches of sugar, almost ruined my saucepan, and had to scramble at the last minute to top my cupcakes with another frosting. This time around I was determined to make vanilla bean caramel sauce to have alongside the hot fudge sauce for our brownie sundae bar. I was so excited that these directions were spot-on and the caramel turned out! Not only was it an easy recipe to make, the caramel is so creamy and the vanilla bean takes the flavor to new heights. This is delicious served on ice cream as well as with apples.
Vanilla Bean Caramel Sauce
1 cup sugar
1 1/4 cups heavy cream
1 vanilla bean, split lengthwise
1/4 tsp coarse salt
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
Spread the sugar in an even layer over the bottom of a large, heavy-bottomed saucepan. Place over medium-low heat, watching carefully. When the sugar begins to liquefy around the edges, use a heatproof spatula to gently stir it towards the center. Continue stirring very gently until all the sugar is melted, taking care not to over stir. Measure out the heavy cream in a liquid measuring cup and scrape the seeds from the vanilla bean into the cream. Set aside. Once the caramel reaches a deep amber color, immediately remove the saucepan from the heat. (To test the color, spoon a drop onto a white plate.) Carefully whisk in half of the heavy cream along with the vanilla bean seeds. The mixture will steam and bubble violently. Stir until the cream is well incorporated, then whisk in the remaining cream. Stir in the salt and the vanilla extract. If any sugar has hardened, place the saucepan over low heat and whisk until smooth.
Store in airtight container in the fridge. If needed, it can be rewarmed in the microwave at 15-second intervals.
source: recipe from annie's eats, originally from The Perfect Scoop