To make a quick brown sugar caramel sauce, heat brown sugar, butter, heavy cream, vanilla extract and salt until thickened. This recipe takes 10 minutes to make and can be served immediately.
To make 8 servings of the caramel sauce, mix 1 cup of brown sugar, 1/2 stick butter, 1/2 cup half-and-half or cream, 1 tablespoon vanilla extract and a pinch of salt in a medium saucepan. Heat the pan over medium-low to medium heat and cook for 5 to 7 minutes, whisking gently. If the sauce is too thin, cook it for a few more minutes until it has thickened. Serve the sauce warm on a cold dessert, or refrigerate it for future use.
Alternatively, omit the vanilla extract and salt, and boil the mixture for 3 minutes. This version is harder to burn because it is cooked for less time.
Caramel is made by heating sugar so that the sugar molecules change to produce a different aroma and texture. Caramel sauces are made with sugar incorporated with a milk product. Any type of milk product including butter and milk produces a thick caramel sauce that can top many desserts. Use the caramel sauce to top food such as waffles, ice cream, bread pudding and brie.