Basic caramel sauce

Time 15 minutes
Yields Makes 1 cup
Basic caramel sauce
(Christine Cotter / Los Angeles Times)

In a heavy-bottomed pan with high sides, place the sugar, lemon juice and one-fourth cup of water. Turn the heat to medium-high and bring the mixture to a boil, swirling the pan occasionally or stirring to maintain even cooking.


Cook the sugar until it turns a deep bronze, about 8 minutes, then remove the pan from the heat.


Pour the cream all at once into the hot sugar. Be careful, as the mixture will bubble and froth up. Stir with a wooden spoon until the sauce is smooth and combined and has stopped boiling.


Add the salt and if you are adding flavoring, stir that in as well.


Pour it into a glass bowl, cover and refrigerate for 30 minutes or longer. The sauce will cool down, develop flavors and thicken to the right consistency; if you let it cool down completely and it becomes too thick, put it in the microwave briefly or in a metal bowl set over a pan of simmering water until the sauce is a pourable consistency.

Armagnac caramel sauce: Add 1 tablespoon Armagnac while stirring in the salt.

Honey caramel sauce: Substitute 1 tablespoon honey for the lemon juice.

Pomegranate caramel sauce: Add 1 tablespoon pomegranate juice while stirring in the salt.

Banyuls caramel sauce: Add 1 tablespoon Banyuls vinegar while stirring in the salt.

Amy Scattergood is a staff writer for the Food section of the Los Angeles Times.
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