I cheated, and I am not ashamed. I made two batches of this easy caramel-- two, because I thought I'd ruined the first batch. It turned out that we all preferred the ruined one on the left, though, to the pristine one on the right, so I'll tell you what to do for both.
Use this to top cheesecake, ice cream, desserts, or your tongue.
Cheater's Caramel Sauce
-1/2 cup butter
-1/2 cup brown sugar
- 1 cup sweetened condensed milk
- coarse sea salt, to taste
Melt butter and sugar together in a saucepan until the sugar dissolves into the butter. Add the sweetened condensed milk and raise the temperature gradually until it starts to simmer, stirring constantly. Cook and stir the mixture for about 20 minutes until the color changes to a rich golden brown. Add salt, to taste, and stir. (This means that you'll have to actually taste the stuff, probably more than once, and, if you're me, several more times to be safe.)
*Important note: To make the caramel on the left, with delicious, crunchy bits of toffee goodness in it, stir the butter/sugar mixture over medium heat until the color begins to deepen slightly, and then add the condensed milk. Stir in condensed milk and continue stirring over medium-low heat until the butter/sugar mixture turns to crunchy toffee but before it turns to bitter black bits. (How's that for technical advice?)