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Please help. I fail at caramel.

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It does sound as though you may be using too high a heat setting, try a lower heat setting. 

Also, stirring the sugar while cooking can cause crystallizing, so After the sugar is dissolved, just shake the pan rather than stirring.

Well, I would be adding cream and butter after removing the pan from the stove, but I never make it that far successfully. :P A traditional caramel sauce is usually made with just sugar (or sugar and water) with milk and/or butter added after removing from heat.

This weekend was pretty humid. I will have to try again tonight and turn the stove down as suggested.


Well my recipe is for caramel candy and for caramel sauce I cheat and melt a handful of my premade caramels in some half and half until disolved and finish it off with a quick stir in of butter.

Here is my recipe:
Don't use an aluminum pan and make sure you are using a wooden spoon.
You don't need a thermometer.

The reason for the water is that it helps to control the caramelization of the sugar. The sugar won't caramelize until all of the water is gone, so the more water you use, the longer it will take

2-4 cups of White sugar
Just enough water to wet the sugar
1-2 cups of warmed heavy cream
Wooden spoon
A large bowl with ice water

Put the sugar in the pan, add water and mix until it the consistency of wet sand. 
Take a wet pastry brush and brush the sides down until they are clear of sugar crystals
Turn your heat on medium and start to boil the sugar and water. 
Get your cream ready in a measuring cup or pot (I boil my cream and keep it on low)

The difference between light caramel and burnt is about 10 seconds on steady heat.
When your sugar begins to get some color, pick up the pot and gently swirl it around in a circular motion.  You want to spread the caramelized sugar around so the temperature evens out.
Put the pot back down on the burner and watch the color.  If one part of the pot turns deeper color sooner than the rest, pick up the pot and swirl it around to evenly distribute the caramel. 
Once the caramel all is a deep amber color take it off of the heat (turn the burner on low) and add the half of the cream
Stir like crazy once the sizzling has stopped
Put the caramel back on the burner and continue stirring
Add more cream until the caramel is the consistency you want
Take the caramel sauce off of the heat and put the pot bottom into the bowl of ice water to stop the sugar and cream from cooking.
If your sauce is too thick, put it back on a low burner and add more warm/hot cream

You can tell the temperature of the sugar by the bubbles.  When it is at lower temperatures, the bubbles will be tiny and fast.  When it is at higher temperatures, the bubbles will get slower and slower and eventually disappear

I don't use half and half or milk.  Straight cream which is more fat and less water.

Oh and I recommend getting a Silpat for making caramel candy.  They are very useful, not just for making candy


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