Makes 3 cups


  • 2 cups sugar
  • 4 Tbsp. (1/2 stick) unsalted butter
  • 2 cups heavy cream
  • 1/2 vanilla bean, split lengthwise and scraped out
  • 1 star anise
  • Zest of half an orange
  • Pinch of salt


    Have all the ingredients ready and measured before you begin, because you need to attend to the caramel constantly as it cooks. Wearing large oven mitts will help protect your hands and arms from any splash-related burns.

    Place a fine-mesh strainer over a deep metal bowl and set aside, close to your stove.

    Put the sugar in a pot and set over medium-high heat and let cook. (Do not walk away!)

    In a separate pot, combine the cream, scraped vanilla bean, orange zest and star anise. Set over low-medium heat and let the liquid warm (it is important that the cream is warm when you add it to the caramel, otherwise the sauce will seize up).

    Cook the sugar until the mixture turns a deep amber color and begins to emit small amounts of smoke (not steam). Immediately turn off the heat, slide the pot to a burner that is not on and add the butter. Holding the pot handle with an oven mitt or towel, slowly swirl the pan to incorporate the butter. The caramel will rise and bubble vigorously. Slowly begin to pour in the warm cream mixture, a few ounces at a time, and stir gently with a wooden spoon.

    Once you have added all the warm cream and the bubbles have subsided, pour the caramel through the fine mesh strainer and let it rest until it cools to room temperature. Serve, or store in the refrigerator for up to 2 weeks, rewarming the sauce in 30-second intervals in the microwave, stirring between intervals, before serving.

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