I remember clearly my first introduction to something of the ‘salted’ caramel variety. My daughter was in high school and we had traveled west from our home to a new shopping center closer to the foothills of the Rocky Mountains called Aspen Grove. Of course we had a beautiful shopping center near us but young girls are always drawn to something new even if the shops available are almost identical and I was good with checking it out too. It’s an open air mall so we did a lot of shopping and walking and decided to end our day with a stop at the Starbucks located in this new area. It was a brisk Fall day so I ordered my usual, an Americano and Lauren saw something new on the menu and went for it. Salted Caramel Hot Chocolate. Sounded so good and decadent and after letting me have a sip, I had to regroup. I ditched my Americano and ordered one of the same but opted to have a shot of Espresso included. Oh my. I was hooked; that caramel was ‘the bomb’ at the time. Since then? I’ve become that person. You know, the one who makes all of her own salad dressings and rubs and sauces so of course I make my own Homemade Salted Caramel Sauce.
Caramel is not hard to make but it takes two things I think we too often don’t have enough of. Time and patience. It’s not a 3 hour process but trying to rush it will end up with something quite different than you had planned. As in burnt caramel. Don’t be tempted to up the heat to speed it along a bit quicker; once sugar gets as hot as this stuff does it can go from perfect to burnt very quickly, so do the medium heat business and take your time and the reward will be so worth it. I don’t normally take photos of a recipe in progress but I thought my little ‘infographic’ might be helpful; I know I wish I had been using one the first time I made caramel sauce. It might have actually turned out for me. And I have a question too. Why do we call it ‘Salted Caramel Sauce?’ Hasn’t it been around long enough to have just evolved to ‘Caramel Sauce?’ We don’t say Salted Potato Chips or Salted Broccoli or Salted Chicken do we? Just wondering…maybe food for thought. 🙂
I’ve promised myself that my crazy homemade holiday gift giving is going to get sane with my move. As in no longer a big basket for my besties filled with homemade goodies but more like one really special thing. I think this might be it. It’s good on so many things. Pancakes and waffles for breakfast or some cinnamon rolls. A dab in some spicy barbecue sauce would be fantastic and then of course there is dessert. Dutch Apple Pie with caramel sauce will be happening for Thanksgiving but I also love simple vanilla ice cream with bananas and warm caramel sauce; sort of a ‘faux’ bananas foster. Speaking of which? Add a spoonful of bourbon or rum after the cream has mixed in. I wanted this to be plain but trust me I seldom make it without adding a bit of my beloved booze!
You can double the recipe but when I do I like to use a heavy skillet; I really like to be able to see that bottom so I have a good barometer of when the melting has commenced. But whether you do this recipe or make ten times this amount; just do it. It is that time of year for heavenly and this fits the bill. Do it for your friends and your relatives but let’s be serious. Do it for YOU!!
And oh by the way? The masses can have that pumpkin latte thing but I’ve declared this Salted Caramel Sauce week and I’ll be sharing with you how to make the most stupendous Salted Caramel Espresso Hot Chocolate in a couple of days; you just have to wait until Friday; cocktail day. You could make this sauce now and be ready because you are going to want what I’m making and no, I’m not telling. Surprises are nice right? I’m moving my blog to a new host this week so I’m hoping I can live up to these promises since…well since I’m moving it…but soon. Very soon.
Homemade Salted Caramel Sauce
- 1 cup granulated sugar
- 6 Tbsp butter (I used salted; cut into 6 pieces, room temperature
- 1/2 cup heavy cream (you can use half and half but it just won't be quite as rich)
- 1 tsp sea salt (I used Maldon Flake Salt but any good sea salt is fine just don't use table salt.)
- In a large, heavy saucepan melt the sugar over medium-high heat. While many recipes call for swirling the sugar and liquid once the sugar starts to melt I've had a few too many burned moments for that. I also don't want it to crystallize by coming in contact with granulated sugar on the sides so I CAREFULLY pull it towards the middle as it melts, level out the sugar and watch again for liquid and then pull it towards the center again.
- Once the majority of the sugar has melted and the color has started to change it's time to watch closely. I switch to a knife at this point so I can break down any sugar pieces that might be a bit large.
- As soon as the sugar has all melted and the caramel is about the color of a copper penny, add the butter and whisk while it is melting. It's HOT; use caution.
- Turn the heat down to low and slowly pour in the cream while whisking vigorously. The caramel is going to bubble aggressively so be careful (and why a large pan is such a good idea!).
- Whisk until all the cream is incorporated and then whisk in the fleur de sel and let it bubble for one minute.
- Remove from the burner and set aside to cool. DO NOT PUT THAT SPOON IN YOUR MOUTH. Not just yet at least; you'll burn your tongue!
- After 15 minutes you can pour the sauce into jars, over ice cream or onto a spoon for taste testing. ?
- You can refrigerate the sauce for up to 2 weeks, but you will need to warm it before use. Warm in the microwave; checking at 10 second intervals or heat in a pot with warm water.