Makes about 2 cups. Recipe by Katie Pollock Estes.
2 cups granulated sugar
1½ sticks of unsalted butter
1 cup heavy cream
1 tablespoon flaky sea salt
Cut butter into small cubes. Let butter and cream sit out until they reach room temperature. Melt the sugar on medium-high heat in a 3-quart saucepan. As the sugar melts, watch it closely. Don’t stir it, but do swirl the pan frequently. When the sugar is fully melted, has turned amber and smells caramelized, add the butter. Stir vigorously with a long-handled wooden spoon until the butter is fully melted and incorporated. Remove the pot from the heat, and add the cream. Stir vigorously until the cream is fully incorporated. Add the salt, and stir vigorously until it’s fully incorporated. Let the caramel sit in the pan to cool for 20 minutes. Then pour into clean, dry glass jars to cool completely. The caramel sauce can be stored in the refrigerator for up to two weeks, and it can be reheated in the microwave.
When you add the butter and the cream, the caramel will bubble rapidly and sometimes even begin to pop and spatter a bit. This is a little scary (and can burn you, so be careful), but make sure you just keep on stirring! Whomever you’re gifting your caramel to will thank you later.