This is an incredibly versatile sauce and cake filling, with enough body to stay put when spread over cake layers, and just thin enough to sauce ice cream. When I spoon it over simple baked fruits, like apples or figs, it becomes a whole new sauce as it mixes with the concentrated fruit juices from the roasting pan. This recipe also perfectly demonstrates how the addition of a couple of simple ingredients to a base heightens its flavor. Here, a squeeze of lemon juice and a little salt bring out flavors of the butter and caramelized sugar.


  • 1/3 Cup Heavy cream
  • 1/4 Vanilla bean
  • 1 1/4 Cups Sugar
  • 1/4 Cup Water
  • 1/4 tsp Salt
  • 2 tbsp Light corn syrup
  • 3/4 tsp Lemon juice
  • 4 tbsp Unsalted butter


Pour the cream into a small, heavy saucepan. Split the vanilla bean in half lengthwise and use the tip of a sharp knife to scrape the seeds from the pod halves into the milk. Place over medium-high heat and bring to just under a boil, stirring occasionally. Reduce the heat to low to keep the cream warm.

In a medium, heavy saucepan, combine the sugar, water, salt, and corn syrup. Bring to a boil over medium heat, stirring to dissolve the sugar. Then cook, without stirring, until the mixture is amber colored, 5 to 8 minutes. Remove from the heat.

The mixture will continue to cook off the heat and become darker, so make sure to have your cream close by. Carefully and slowly add the cream to the sugar syrup. The mixture will boil vigorously at first. Let the mixture simmer down, and then whisk until smooth. Add the lemon juice. Let cool for about 10 minutes.

Cut the butter into 1-inch chunks and add them to the caramel one at a time, whisking constantly after each addition. Then whisk the caramel periodically as it continues to cool.

The caramel will keep in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 1 month.

Be sure to use a good-sized pan for cooking the caramel. When you add the hot cream, the caramel will boil furiously at first, increasing dramatically in volume. As always when caramelizing sugar, have ice water close by in case of burns. Makes about 1 1/2 cups.

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Submitted 10/7/06.
Source: Tartine
Submitted By: b smith