Preheat oven to 325 degrees F. For caramel, combine sugar and 1/2 cup water in a medium saucepan. Be sure all sugar granules are washed down from pot sides. Cook over moderate heat, swirling pan occasionally, until color is golden brown and mixture smells like caramel. Often you need to cook it a bit darker than you would imagine. This should take 10 to 15 minutes. Pour enough caramel into a 9-inch round cake pan to coat bottom and sides. Swirl to coat and reserve. Add remaining water to caramel in saucepan. Bring to a boil and cook over moderate heat until the sugar dissolves, about 5 minutes. Occasionally stir and brush down sides with a pastry brush dipped in cold water. This process prevents crystallization of the sugar. Set this caramel sauce aside at room temperature, then chill until serving time.
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