An apple dipped in apple bourbon caramel sauce.

Get ready to master Caytlin’s Famous Apple Bourbon Caramel Sauce. This incredibly tasty, simple-to-follow recipe will amp up your dessert skills and have everyone asking for the recipe.

With a blend of sweet apples, sumptuous caramel, and the smooth hint of bourbon, this Apple Bourbon Caramel Sauce has become a staple in Chef Caytlin’s kitchen and an all-time favorite amongst her friends and family. It became so popular she even does massive batches for sale. Come holiday season, orders for her Apple Bourbon Caramel Sauce flood in months in advance, making it a guaranteed sell-out. Now, you too can whip up this delightful sauce in your kitchen. The recipe requires a few basic ingredients and just a splash of apple bourbon. The result? A wonderfully balanced, smooth, and indulgent sauce that will elevate your dessert game.

Caramel Stages

When making caramel, it’s important to be familiar with the various stages it goes through as it cooks. Caramelization, the process of transforming sugar into caramel, occurs over several distinct stages, each identifiable by temperature and resulting consistency. The process begins with the “thread stage” (230-235°F), where the sugar syrup forms thin threads when dropped into cold water. It’s followed by the “soft ball” stage (235-240°F), so named because the syrup forms a malleable ball in cold water, but flattens once removed. The “firm ball” stage (245-250°F) is where the syrup holds its shape when formed into a ball but remains pliable. As the heat rises, you reach the “hard ball” stage (250-265°F), yielding a firm ball that holds its shape. The “soft crack” stage (270-290°F) and “hard crack” stage (300-310°F) create a firm, brittle syrup. If continued past these points, the syrup will turn into a dark, richly-flavored caramel at around 320-350°F, ideal for sauces and confections. Knowing these stages is crucial in determining the final texture and consistency of your caramel dish.

For this recipe, aim for a temperature between 200-205 degrees Fahrenheit, which will yield a smooth and velvety sauce without reaching the soft ball stage.

No candy thermometer?

While using a candy thermometer is the most accurate method to ensure the caramel reaches the desired consistency, you can still make this delicious sauce without one. Here are detailed instructions to guide you through the process:

  1. As the mixture begins to simmer, pay close attention to its appearance and texture. You’re aiming for a smooth and velvety sauce. The caramel should become thicker and more cohesive, with small bubbles consistently breaking the surface.
  2. To check the consistency without a thermometer, carefully take a small spoonful of the caramel sauce and let it cool for a moment. Then, using your fingers, pinch the sauce between your thumb and index finger. As you pull your fingers apart, the sauce should form a thread that stretches but doesn’t immediately break. This indicates that the sauce has reached the desired consistency.
  3. Once you’ve achieved the correct consistency, remove the saucepan from heat. Allow the caramel to cool for a few minutes before carefully stirring in the vanilla extract, apple bourbon, and salt.
  4. Continue to stir the sauce until all the ingredients are well combined. Let the sauce cool down, and then transfer it to jars for storage.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can I use regular bourbon instead of apple bourbon?

Yes, if you can’t find apple bourbon, you can substitute plain bourbon for the caramel sauce. For those who do not consume alcohol or prefer an alcohol-free version, you may also omit the bourbon altogether.

Can I use unsalted butter instead of salted butter?

Yes, if you prefer unsalted butter, simply add a pinch of salt to the recipe to achieve the desired balance of flavors.

What is the best type of sugar to use to make caramel?

While you can make caramel with any type of sugar, most chefs prefer using granulated white sugar because it melts evenly, ensuring a smooth caramel.

Serving Suggestions

This versatile sauce is perfect for dipping apples, making apple nachos, drizzling over ice cream, or incorporating into various desserts such as cheesecakes and pies. Get creative and explore the endless possibilities of this delightful sauce!

Overhead view of a spoon filled with apple bourbon caramel sauce.

Troubleshooting Grainy Caramel

Grainy caramel is often a result of sugar crystallization during caramelization. To prevent this, ensure the mixture reaches boiling point while stirring consistently to avoid burning.

Graininess can also occur due to condensation from covering the caramel too soon. If this happens, just reheat the mixture until it boils again, which will help eliminate the grainy texture, much like how heating crystallized honey returns it to a smooth state.

Storage Instructions

Store the apple bourbon caramel sauce in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 1 month. To reheat, simply warm the sauce in a saucepan over low heat or in a microwave-safe container in short intervals until it reaches the desired consistency.

If you like this recipe, you may be interested in these other delicious caramel recipes: