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Author Notes: Caramel is total magic. This one gets warm sweetness from honey and a hit of five-spice powder, which makes it especially fall-and-winter-appropriate, if you ask me.
You can keep this caramel sort of liquidy or keep heating it until quite thick (so it will be spoonable from the fridge). Your choice! —Caroline Lange
Makes about 1 cup
- 1/2 cup sugar
- 1/2 cup honey
- 1 cup heavy or whipping cream
- 1 teaspoon five-spice powder
- Fat pinch of salt
- First, get all your ingredients and tools together. Caramel goes quickly, so you'll want to have everything by your side. In addition to the ingredients, you'll need two smallish saucepans (one of them heavy-bottomed, both of them with high-ish sides), a whisk, and a second whisk or a fork.
- Whisk together the sugar and the honey in the heavy-bottomed saucepan. Clean your whisk. In the second saucepan, whisk together the cream and five-spice powder with the second whisk or fork.
- Heat the cream mixture over medium heat—you don't want it to simmer, just really get hot (steam and bubbles at the edges are good). Meanwhile, heat the sugar-honey mixture over high heat. Resist the urge to stir it—at all—for about 5 1/2 minutes, when the mixture turns from golden to amber and the smell changes.
- When the sugar-honey mixture turns amber, remove it from the heat and carefully pour in about half of the hot spiced cream, whisking the whole time. The caramel will bubble up furiously! Pour in the rest of the cream, add a fat pinch of salt, and return to the heat (medium flame), whisking constantly until smooth. You can either call it a day here—you'll have a pourable, more liquidy caramel—or continue to whisk it over medium heat for 5 to 8 minutes, until golden bubbles seem to rise and fall under the surface of the caramel, for a thicker caramel sauce that will be spoonable cold from the fridge (my preference). At any point, you can test how thick the caramel is by dripping a bit onto a cool plate and tilting the plate. (This is a good opportunity for taste tests, too.) Keep in mind that, either way, it will thicken a bit as it cools.
- Store the caramel in a jar in the refrigerator for up to 2 weeks. To make pourable and warm for drizzling over ice cream or fruit, heat in a saucepan over low heat.