Maple, Bourbon and Balsamic Caramel Sauce

Caramel Sauce…love it or hate it? Truth is it wasn’t until the other night that I met someone who doesn’t care for it. I immediately put my hand to his forehead to see if he was feverish; that could have been the ONLY excuse right? Why yes, I am talking about you Nate! What I most often hear is that folks hate making it. Do I combine just sugar and heat or go long and add a bit of water? How long should it cook. EXACTLY what color should it be. How big a pot to account for the rolling boil when you put cream into caramelized sugar? The list goes on and it’s clear something simple is not always, so I make it the easiest thing possible for friends and include this sauce in my list for holiday gift giving. How much easier could it get??!!

My secret? Nothing burned here; absolutely no browning necessary. I don’t imagine you have a problem with butter and brown sugar right? Not exactly the same as that slightly burned but wonderful sugary result but equally good and SO much easier to make.

How much easier Barb? Well, easy as in all ingredients dumped in a saucepan and heated to a boil where it cooks for a couple of minutes. Done. Without worrying about burning off your fingertips either!

maple-bourbon-balsamic-caramel-sauce2

Of course I have to fiddle with the recipe ingredients occasionally. As in always. Should be no surprise that said fiddling often includes the addition of some booze. This time around it’s Bourbon. Which made me think of Maple. I have this thing about putting maple syrup together with bourbon; I just LOVE the combination. Maple Bourbon Bacon and Maple Bourbon and Bacon Spiced Walnuts can attest to that. I’ve decided a cookbook might be in order. Maple Bourbon Everything. I could do that!!

So I did it. And it was good. But it was swwweeet. Which of course caramel sauce is supposed to be but I wondered what I could do to cut that sweetness just a bit. I spied balsamic vinegar and I’ll be honest, I tested a little bit first. Not one to easily throw ingredients in the trash I wanted some insurance so put a teeny tiny drop onto a teaspoon of the caramel sauce and gave it a whirl. Oh. My. Goodness. Perfect. The balsamic vinegar is not discernible like the bourbon but it made an undeniable difference and darkened it up a bit. LOVED it even if the ONLY ice cream on hand had Oreo cookies in it!

Fair warning; if I give you a gift basket at Christmas; stop reading now. OK, forge forward if you must but know this is it. This WILL be a holiday gift (with a move to my new home soon imminent this might be ALL I get done!). Every year there is something that is just so good that I know it will be part of my holiday gift giving…nice to know so early on what that will be. And no, pandering to me now will not work. Well, actually depends on how much pandering.  :)

Maple, Bourbon and Balsamic Caramel Sauce
 
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
 
Ingredients
  • 1 cup firmly packed brown sugar
  • 1 stick (4 ounces) butter
  • ¼ cup half and half
  • ¼ cup maple syrup
  • ¼ cup bourbon
  • 1 tsp balsamic vinegar
Preparation
  1. Bring all ingredients to a boil in a large saucepan over medium-high heat. Boil, stirring constantly for 3-4 minutes until smooth and thick.
  2. Before serving, remove from heat and cool for at least 15 minutes.Store in the refrigerator in a jar with a snug lid.
  3. Reheat in microwave if necessary. Keeps for about a month in the refrigerator...but really; think it will be around that long?

maple-bourbon-balsamic-caramel-sauce3

This is easy, uses ingredients you probably have on hand and did I mention easy! Uses? SO many. Ice cream, fruits (I love caramel with both bananas and pears), drizzled on cookies or cakes and most definitely would be a fabulous match for some apple pie. I’m drooling just thinking about it!

Now hand me a spoon. I’ve got some further testing to do. :)

Maple Bourbon and Balsamic Caramel Sauce
 
Ingredients
  • 1 cup firmly packed brown sugar
  • 1 stick (4 ounces) butter
  • ¼ cup half and half
  • ¼ cup maple syrup
  • ¼ cup bourbon
  • 1 tsp balsamic vinegar
Preparation
  1. Bring all ingredients to a boil in a large saucepan over medium-high heat. Boil, stirring constantly for 3-4 minutes until smooth and thick.
  2. Before serving, remove from heat and cool for at least 15 minutes.
  3. Reheat in microwave if necessary. Keeps for about a week...but really; think it will be around that long?

Comments

  1. Vickie says

    This was exactly what I was looking for to put in holiday gift baskets this year. It sounds heavenly!! But did I read that right, it only keeps a week?

    • Creative Culinary says

      Hmm…no I think longer than that if kept refrigerated. I’m going to revise that to a month; I just have had too much sugar when I wrote that. :)

  2. says

    You do create some of the best food-gifts ever! Thanks for being so generous as to share your recipes. Though I will still give cookies next year, some of your wonderful ideas will also be given and you will be given the credit.

    Sincere best wishes for a very Merry Christmas Barb. May all the good you do come back to you ten-fold in 2014.
    Paula Most Recent Post: Santa and the Grinch

    • Creative Culinary says

      Definitely test it out on him! My neighbor across the street always says he is not that fond of sweets and then devours everything I make!

  3. says

    I seriously wish I was getting one of your gift baskets!! This looks incredible. The people getting it are seriously lucky, edible gifts are the best :-) Would never ever of paired balsamic with caramel but I can imagine it works so well! Defo one to add to the to make list!! Gorgeous recipe

    • Creative Culinary says

      Thanks Claire! I think one thing I’ve learned is how good balsamic is with a sweeter element; first as an accompaniment to fruits; then drizzled on bread with honey and now with this sauce. A little goes a long way; the desire isn’t to taste vinegar but just to add another element of richness. It worked! :)

    • Creative Culinary says

      Thanks Sommer…and of course you could have! My recipe development is most often all in the moment so I never know what I’m going to do…might not be the best method of planning but sometimes has great results and I have to admit this is one of them.

    • Creative Culinary says

      I’ve done the booze before…a rum caramel sauce is a good thing! But this…it is over the top good so do make it John!

  4. says

    Please, please write Maple Bourbon Everything, Barb! This caramel looks unbelievable and I just added it to my gift-giving list. I have a friend who is allergic to sulfites, though, and can’t have balsamic – would the caramel be too sweet if I left it out of a batch for her? I can’t wait to dunk a spoon into this one. I hope you’re enjoying this festive season and that your move goes well! xx
    Hannah Most Recent Post: Cranberry Malabi

    • Creative Culinary says

      I should huh? It’s not all that too sweet; I sometimes think I just need to find something more…as if bourbon and maple weren’t enough! See what you think and if you want a pinch of less sweet; try a tiny bit of white vinegar even; guess vinegar is sort of the lemon in my caramel sauces!

    • Creative Culinary says

      I’ve heard the laments over the years…mostly from burning the sugar and water. I think easy for you is subjective because you could make it in your sleep I bet! I’m holding it too; although a big gasp of air might be required. They are taking their sweet time. :)

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