This is the very first time I make homemade caramel sauce other than the very easy to make caramel sauce for flans, of course. OMG, let me just say. WOW! This, like many of Ina Garten's recipe's is amazing. I cut the recipe in half, big mistake. Now I want more. :) Drizzle over cakes, pies, or icecream or you can do like me and make apple cut out shapes with your favorite cookie cutters, dip in the sauce and dust with chopped nuts or almond meal.
1 1/2 cups sugar
1/3 cup water
1 1/4 cups heavy cream
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
Mix the water and sugar in a medium heavy-bottomed saucepan. Cook over low heat for 5 to 10 minutes, until the sugar dissolves. Do not stir. Increase the heat to medium and boil uncovered until the sugar turns a warm chestnut brown (about 350 degrees F on a candy thermometer), about 5 to 7 minutes, gently swirling the pan to stir the mixture. Be careful – the mixture is extremely hot! Watch the mixture very carefully at the end, as it will go from caramel to burnt very quickly. Turn off the heat. Stand back to avoid splattering and slowly add the cream and vanilla. Don't worry - the cream will bubble violently and the caramel will solidify.
Simmer over low heat, stirring constantly, until the caramel dissolves and the sauce is smooth, about 2 minutes. Allow to cool to room temperature, at least 4 hours. It will thicken as it sits.