An easy and versatile salted caramel recipe that's perfect for dripping cakes, drizzling over desserts, dipping apples, or eating by the spoonful.
Have everything pre-measured and ready to go (you’ll be constantly stirring). Place the sugar in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat and stir constantly with a wooden spoon, until it melts into an amber-colored liquid and no sugar clumps remain, 5-6 minutes.
Reduce the heat to medium. Carefully add the butter (it will bubble up when you do) and use a whisk to combine it with the sugar mixture until the butter is fully melted and incorporated, 2-3 minutes.
Add the heavy whipping cream in a steady stream while whisking. As soon as the cream is incorporated, let the caramel boil for a full minute before removing it from the heat and stirring in the salt.
Let the caramel cool to room temperature* before using it in a buttercream recipe or as a cake topping. If you're using it to drizzle over ice cream or warm baked goods, you only need to cool it slightly (20 minutes or so). It will thicken as it cools.
Make Ahead Tip: You can make this salted caramel ahead and store in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to two weeks. When you're ready to use it, reheat it in the microwave in 15 second intervals until it reaches room temperature.
*The term "room temperature" will vary depending on your environment. This caramel should be soft and set at about 70ºF. If it's too firm at room temperature, simply microwave it in 10 second increments until it's runny enough for dripping/pouring but not hot enough to melt buttercream.