The first part of November is never about holiday shopping plans for me; it is about gift giving preparation. Every year, I make a basket of goodies for my best friends and family. I’ve learned over the past several years that I had better not wait as it’s best to get things done and in the mail by the 10th of December…I would rather recipients use the packaged goodies for their holiday then open them on Christmas Day.
Baskets typically include long time holiday favorites including my Grandmother Lizette’s’ Pecan Butter Balls (above) and my Favorite Fruitcake (don’t be afraid…there is nary one of those nasty green or yellow awful citron things in it!). I always buy unscented candles so that I can save the scraps and re-purpose them by making homemade candles with herbs from my garden. The basket also includes something that requires spices of the season so that I can attach the recipe and packets of spices from Savory Spice Shop; last year it was Molasses Cookies so I attached ginger, cinnamon and cloves; I love that the package smells like the holiday when it’s opened!
Last year I did something different and made Cranberry Liqueur. It was a huge hit so there is some pressure to create something that recipients will enjoy just as much this year. And I do believe this is it!
This year it’s all about the caramel and the rum!
I’ve been in love with Bananas Foster from the first time I tried it. My ex-husband and I had gone back to St. Louis to visit family after moving to Raleigh, NC and we went to dinner one night and had Bananas Foster Crepes for dessert. A dessert crepe filled with vanilla ice cream and topped with Bananas Foster; a mixture of brown sugar and butter that bananas are sauteed in and then flambeed with rum. I was in love. I went out THE NEXT DAY and bought a crepe maker and a crepe cookbook and though I’ve progressed over the years to making crepes without an appliance, I still use that same recipe for special occasions.
With that inspiration I decided to make a caramel sauce with those same flavor components with the expectation that gift recipients will just have to slice bananas into the sauce, warm slightly and serve over vanilla ice cream (or crepes with vanilla ice cream!). It worked perfectly, was simple and decadent and I’m not kidding, I could have did eat it with a spoon!
Homemade Caramel Sauce with Cinnamon and Rum
A rich caramel sauce flavored with rum and cinnamon.
- 1 cup of sugar
- 1/4 cup water
- 6 Tbsp butter
- 1/2 cup half and half (many recipes for caramel sauce call for heavy cream; I've had great success with half and half but if you want an even richer end result, by all means substitute an equal amount of heavy cream)
- 1 tsp cinnamon
- 3 Tbsp rum (I used dark but either light or dark will work)
- Whisk cinnamon and rum into half and half and set aside.
- Combine 1 cup sugar and 1/4 cup water in a medium heavy-bottomed saucepan. Bring to a boil over medium heat, whisking constantly.
- Once mixture starts to boil, turn heat to medium-low and stop whisking.
- Continue to boil until the mixture turns amber, about 10 to 15 minutes.
- Remove pan from the stove and add butter; whisk in butter as it melts.
- When butter has melted, whisk in half and half mixture; it will bubble vigorously; just continue whisking til smooth.
- Cool; will keep in the fridge for a couple of weeks (that theory has never been tested; it disappears too fast!).
I've made caramel sauce using two methods. One requires you heat sugar in a pan until it melts and turns a warm brown color and the other starts with sugar and water which has to cook a bit longer to cook off the water but it is a bit less risky...so we'll go that direction.