Can we get any better than vanilla beans, sea salt, and homemade caramel? I didn't think so. Let me just repeat that to be sure. Vanilla beans. Sea salt. Caramelized sugar. Got it? Good.

I tend to cheat when I make caramel by using brown sugar. It's easy to achieve the caramel color when you start with it, right? But the thing about using brown sugar is that the sugar doesn't caramelize, so it's not a true caramel. So this was the first time I've made a true caramel sauce, and it won't be the last.

I'm not going to lie to you and say it can be done in 10 minutes. Well, maybe it can but it took me much longer. One of the annoying things about making caramel sauce is that when you add the cream, it lumps together and then you have this clumpy mess and you're left with this inedible sugar rock and cream floating around it. Or maybe that's just me. But....if you keep cooking it on low heat, the rock of sugar will melt again and it will get smooth and creamy like the picture above. Or below. You just have to patient (which is definitely not my virtue). However, this is so worth it. When you stick a spoon of it in your mouth, you will want to sit with the jar, devour the entire thing, and then wonder accusingly who ate all the caramel. Trust me.

This took me an hour to make but I know how to shorten that time. Use a large pan. Either a saucepan or a skillet. I used a 6-inch saucepan, and it took forever. If you have a bigger surface area to caramelize the sugar, it will happen quicker (duh!). So I highly recommend doing that because the sooner you can get this in your mouth, the better. Seriously.

Vanilla Bean Salted Caramel Sauce Recipe
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1 cup sugar
1 1/4 cups heavy cream
1 vanilla bean, split lengthwise (or 1 teaspoon vanilla extract in addition to the vanilla below)
1/4 teaspoon sea salt
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

In a large heavy bottom pan, spread the sugar in an even layer and turn the heat on medium low. Scrape the seeds out of the vanilla bean and add them to the cream. Heat the cream in the microwave for about 1 minute so it's not really cold.

Keep an eye on the sugar without stirring, and once the edges start to liquify, slowly stir the sugar together until it all melts and is liquid. If it starts to turn brown too quickly, turn the heat to medium. If it starts to clump, turn the heat to low and let it melt. Don't stir too often so it can liquify.

Once it's liquid and is a deep amber color (you can test a drop on a white plate if you need), slowly add the cream while whisking. Be careful because it will boil violently. If it clumps (good chance it will), return the pan to the burner on medium low and slowly whisk it until it melts. While you're stirring it, add in the sea salt and extract. Once the sauce is completely smooth, remove it from the heat and let it cool for a couple of minutes and then place it in a heat-proof container (like a mason jar). Store in the fridge for up to one month.

Source: Smells Like Home


01/18/2013 8:00am

This looks like the most PERFECT caramel sauce!!! What a gorgeous and delicious list of deliciousness: vanilla bean + sea salt + homemade caramel=yummmmm!

01/18/2013 8:16am

Oh the things that this could be used in/on! Or I may just eat it straight from the spoon . . . :)

01/18/2013 9:50am

Agreed... thats the right way to eat it lol .. yum!

01/18/2013 9:31am

I want to bathe in a tub filled with this. I know that's weird, but this looks so good, I want to swim in it!

01/18/2013 3:47pm

That recipe is just what I've been missing all my life. I just had salted caramel flavored ice cream at coldstone and this would be perfect mixed with some homemade vanilla ice cream!

01/19/2013 12:21pm

Where has this been all my life?? I will soon be pouring over everything, thanks for posting!


Oh man. This is just divine. I think we'll need a jar of this in our house stat!

05/29/2013 7:41pm

Made this and it's so good! Tastes like melted werthers lol.
I've made this and other caramels, and don't hate me but... I've never had mine clump. While adding the cream you have got to whisk like a mad woman. You will even feel it trying to clump while you're whisking the crud out of it haha but don't stop until the bubbles have gone back down

06/10/2013 9:18pm

Hey there, I made this tonight and it was just wonderful-used it in the cupcake recipe that goes with it. I was just wondering though, is the caramel supposed to soak into the cupcake? thanks for the wonderful recipe :)

She Makes and Bakes
06/13/2013 9:12am

Yes, it does soak through the cupcakes a bit. When that happens, I just wait a few minutes and add more sauce to them.

08/26/2013 2:17am

This one felt really good and so I have tried it a few days before and I rued it because it was too salty! Ha..ha. But, I am not going to give up. I’ll try again soon! Anyway, thanks for the recipe.


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