There are two ways to make caramel: melt the sugar on its own and then add hot water, or cook heavy syrup until it turns to caramel.
The disadvantage of the first method is that to make sauce you have to undergo the sometimes dangerous process of adding liquid to hot sugar. The disadvantage of the second is that if there are grains of sugar on the side of the pan and they fall down into the bubbling sugar, the syrup can crystallize and then you have to start all over again.
This crystallization problem can usually be avoided by making the heavy syrup in one pan and cooking it to caramel in another, and by watering down the sides of the pan with a pastry brush as the syrup is turning into caramel. I like the heavy syrup method.
Bring the syrup to a boil, immediately lower the heat to a simmer, and cook until the syrup turns golden brown. Remove from the heat and wait 5 minutes. As the caramel cools it will find its final color. If it is not dark enough, cook until it is.
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