i've been trying to learn to cook over the past few months and one thing i've become taken with is making salted butter caramels. however, i use a very cheap ikea saucepan which not only is too small (the bubbling of the caramels means i can only make so much at once), but it conducts heat poorly and unevenly and it gives me much trouble.. i've learned i must melt the sugar in several waves and run the whole process at very low heat or i will risk burning the sugar or ruining the caramel texture, meaning something i might be able to accomplish in <30m takes me something in the neighborhood of 90m.
i have read that the premium option for cooking sugar (or delicate sauces) is copper but i am a cheap and functional minded person and $200+ for a saucepan does not strike me as the most cost effective option. i don't care if the pot looks pretty, has a lid, or can even go in the dishwasher and i am totally ok with a more "disposable" lifespan if the price matches. i just want something that will heat up my sugar well and not mess with the taste or anything.
i want something in the 1.5-2qt range and i'd really prefer it to be a bit on the narrow/tall side in design (height at or more than 60% the diameter) so my thermometer will not have trouble reading the temperature
from my research my options seem to be
-industry style bare aluminum saucepan. i do not know if bare aluminum is ok for what i want to use it for, but i do know that it's inexpensive. a vollrath "arkadia" 1.5qt saucepan is quite narrow and should be <15$
-consumer brand stainless steel w/ aluminum disc bottom saucepan. - ofc these vary in price hugely by brand and whether i get it off amazon or bed bath and beyond but should be somewhere from $20 to $50. this is also what i'm cooking in now so i'm hesitant, but i'm open to it on the assumption a higher quality mfr would be a better experience
-antique stainless steel with copper bottom saucepan. - i've noticed that one can buy used revereware saucepans from the 60's with a little bit of looking which are stainless steel with a copper base. i should be able to find one in decent looking quality for $20-30. a downside is these seem to be rather wide from my research, sides are ~50% the diameter in 1.5 and 2qt options.
-steel/aluminum clad - the all clad 2qt is the perfect dimensions but way too pricey, so i'd be looking at cuisinart or tramontina or one of the other bargain clad options where i should be able to get a saucepan in the ~$50 range
-sitram stainless steel with copper base - this was the only copper/stainless steel disc style i could find, runs like ~$70 on amazon for a 1.5qt which is kinda pricey.
edit: forgot to mention i have a gas range.