Salted Dark Caramel Sauce

My better half doesn't do chocolate.

Um, excuse me?


So when I do dessert and I feel like including him, I usually do some type of fruity something or other, or with cookies I'll do the base, split the dough, and do dark chocolate chips in one half and white chocolate chips in the other....vanilla cake and ice cream are actually pretty satisfying, when done right.
Last year for our Thanksgiving Series, I was in charge of the pumpkin pie. Gross, right? I thought i'd create all sorts of twists to make it the best pumpkin pie we ever did eat, and I think I did.
I might have been slightly overzealous with the adjectives, but you must taste the entire vision.
Hands down, the sauce is my favorite part. I already posted the recipe on the pie recipe, but we felt like it deserved its own post. I've made this sauce and actually incorporated it into the base of a chocolate-covered rice krispie's treat, dunked apples in it, drizzled it over butter pecan ice cream and brownies, topped a cheesecake, in Caramel Apple Spice drink, have plans to mingle with an apple crumble, and most definitely licked the spoon many a time.
  The first time I made this for the pumpkin pie, I just used vanilla. Today, I halved the vanilla and replaced the other half with some coconut extract. It was incredible. It lightened up the intense, dark depth the sauce usually has and slightly added a bit of a different flavor. Try it both ways. 
It comes together in a pinch, and is pretty foolproof. Best part? No candy thermometer!
I think I've decided to package this up in little mason jars and tie with a bow as gifts come Christmas...

Salted Dark Caramel Sauce
1 c sugar
1/2 c plus 2 T heavy whipping cream, room temperature
6 T unsalted butter, room temperature
1 t coarse salt
1 t vanilla
(or try 1/2 t vanilla + 1/2 t coconut extract)
1. Completely melt sugar in heavy-bottomed saucepan by using medium-low heat and not stirring. You can gently shake the pan occasionally, but stirring the sugar will form crystals. If you must stir, you will have to cook the sugar long enough to melt everything, then re-melt the crystals you've formed. This lengthened cooking time will deepen the flavor, but possibly too much and may cause an unpleasant, burnt flavor. Better to be in control of how long you cook the melted sugar.
2. Once the sugar is melted and a rich copper color, reduce heat to very low and add whipping cream and butter. It will bubble up so ensure you have a large enough pan. Vigorously stir until everything is incorporated.
3. Remove from heat, add extract(s) and salt.

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