I know there are lots of ways out there to make ‘easy’ caramel– usually involving sweetened condensed milk alone (dulce de leche) or with brown sugar (cooked to just a high-enough temp to taste like caramel.) I’m not here to knock either of those two methods– they certainly have their places. I love to use dulce de leche in this icing, and when I lived in South America, we ate it daily on bread for breakfast. It was heavenly. Likewise, the brown sugar stuff is great for caramel apples in the fall, and for an easy chocolate-fondue alternative.
But today I’m back from a long vacation, and ready for the real thing: pure sugar with a bit of water (and Karo to avoid crystalization), brought almost to the smoke-point. Combine this with heavy cream and a little butter, and it is caramel perfection. Don’t be scared. Throw fear (but not safety) out the window, and follow these directions closely. There is nothing like pure sugar after that beautiful, fragrant and fast-moving process of caramelization!