Photo: Jeffery Cross; Styling: Kelly Allen
Your lucky gift recipients will be sampling spoonfuls of this sauce long before it hits the ice cream. The combination of deeply caramelized sugar plus cream, salt, vanilla, and a little booze is that good. (And unlike versions that contain butter, this one, made only with cream, stays pourable right from the fridge.) If you prefer, the sauce is also great without the bourbon.
Makes 8 cups (serving size: 1/4 cup)
1. Pour sugar into a 6- to 8-qt. pot and cook over medium-high heat, stirring often with a long-handled spoon, until melted and deep amber, 20 to 25 minutes. Carefully add cream (it will bubble furiously and sugar will seize up). Cook, stirring and scraping sides of pan occasionally, until sugar completely melts again, 10 to 12 minutes.
2. Remove sauce from heat and stir in salt, vanilla, and bourbon to taste. Let cool. Pour caramel sauce into a spouted measuring cup before pouring into jars. Serve cold or slightly warm (sauce is thicker when cold).
Make ahead: Up to 3 weeks, chilled.