Originally, my next door neighbor, from back when when horses had three toes, (I’m not as old as the dinosaurs, you see), gave me the base for this recipe. She referred to it as “caramel”. You just put corn syrup, butter, and brown sugar together in a pot and bring them to a boil, then pour the sauce over popcorn and voila you have caramel popcorn. It was a pretty loose interpretation of caramel, but gooey goodness nonetheless.
Then one day I was sitting around thinking about caramel and about how I would like a caramel sauce that I could put over ice cream or other desserts. The recipe that I wanted and the recipe that I had were not matching up; I needed something with more depth. So I kept thinking. Back in those days I had to do my own thinking because there was no internet. I love the internet. Somebody has already done my thinking for me and all I have to do is to have even the mere wisp of a query and with the sequential pushing of the right buttons I will be lead to my answer…and also to many other answers for questions I have not yet thought to ask. Oh boy, I love multi-level thinking. Did you know that Paradise Lost can be read on seven different levels? You would expect that from Paradise Lost, but how about Tom Sawyer or Huckleberry Finn? My 11th grade high school English teacher blew up my world when she asked us to analyze what Clemens was really saying in those two books.
Uh oh, tangent.
Anyway, one day I was sitting around thinking about that caramel sauce and decided to add some other ingredients to it to give it a richer flavor. When I tasted the resulting creation, the earth moved. “I must give this a name of its own,” I said to myself, “For it has passed the threshold of ordinary caramel. I shall call it ‘Caramel Butter Sauce’.” It is now at the top of my “Things Worth Eating With A Spoon” list. Actually, I ought to make a list on which this sauce is the only thing on the list. Maybe I could call the list “Food of Divine Intervention”.
I first made this sauce on top of the stove, but then I had a flash of genius and decided to give it a try in the microwave. Winner! And for those who read this post and say something about a) the use of corn syrup or b) that this isn’t “real” caramel sauce, I acknowledge that yes, I am working on a way to do away with corn syrup in some recipes and someday will, when I work up the courage and don’t have any pressing engagements, make real caramel syrup. (Real caramel syrup only has three ingredients: butter, sugar, and cream. It’s all about cooking technique that turns those three ingredients into true caramel.)
Now, let me say this: You can make this caramel butter sauce WITH or WITHOUT corn syrup. The corn syrup can be replaced by Agave. It works beautifully. I am including instructions for making this sauce in the microwave or on the stove top.
1/2 cup butter (1 stick)
1 cup agave nectar or corn syrup
1 cup white sugar
1 cup brown sugar
1 can sweetened condensed milk (NOT evaporated milk)
In a large bowl, put one cube of butter. Cover the bowl with wax paper to catch the butter spatters. Microwave on high for 45 seconds-1 minute until the butter is melted.
Remove bowl from microwave and add the white and brown sugars. Stir well, breaking up any brown sugar lumps. Stir in the rest of the ingredients until well combined.
Dip a pastry brush in warm water and brush the inside of the bowl to wash down the sides where the sugar granules have stuck. This will help prevent your sauce from being grainy. If sugar crystals are reintroduced to the sauce after it has begun to cook, then it causes more crystals to grow. Interesting, ain’t it. If you don’t mind a grainy sauce, then skip this step. Personally, I kind of like it. (Grin.)
Put the wax paper back over the bowl. Microwave on high for two minutes. Using oven mitts, take the bowl out of the microwave and stir. Wash down sides again with pastry brush and water.
Cover, return to microwave, and cook on high another 2 minutes (this is now 4 minutes that you have cooked your sauce). Stir again.
Cook for two more minutes on high (this brings cooking time to a total of 6 minutes). The sauce will be super hot and will be bubbling around the edges. Be careful and use oven mitts to take the bowl out of the microwave. Stir until everything is smooth and creamy. You’re done!
Transfer the sauce into a glass jar and allow to cool. Store in refrigerator. IMPORTANT NOTE: Do not pour the hot sauce into a cool or cold jar. It could cause the jar to break. To warm the jar, just run some hot tap water over it, wipe off the water with a cloth, and then pour the syrup into the jar. Again: this syrup is very hot!
- melt the butter for 45 seconds-1 minute
- add the rest of the ingredients, stir, cook for 2 minutes on high
- stir, cook for 2 minutes on high
- stir, cook for 2 more minutes on high
Melt the butter in a 3-quart sauce pot over medium heat. Add the remainder of the ingredients. Stir until well blended. Wash down the inside of the pot with a moist pastry brush that has been dipped in warm water. Cook and stir the sauce over medium heat just until the first bubbles start to appear. Stirring is important because the sugars burn easily. When stirring, make sure that you get the sauce at the bottom of the pan otherwise it will burn. Remove from heat and pour into a warmed one-quart jar or two warmed pint jars. Allow to cool before putting on the lid(s). Store in refrigerator.
For the microwave: