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!
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. :)
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. :)
- 1 cup firmly packed brown sugar
- 1 stick (4 ounces) butter
- 1/4 cup half and half
- 1/4 cup maple syrup
- 1/4 cup bourbon
- 1 tsp balsamic vinegar
- 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.
- Before serving, remove from heat and cool for at least 15 minutes.
- Reheat in microwave if necessary. Keeps for about a week...but really; think it will be around that long?