Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Salted Caramel Sauce

I love salted caramel.  Love it.  I can't even wax poetic about it, because it reduces me to a blabbering idiot.

I made a salted caramel sauce.  I have plans for it.  Yummy plans.  But you'll have to wait til the next post to see what those plans are.

I made a double recipe of the sauce.  I wanted to have enough to pour over ice cream.  Yum.  But first I need to buy ice cream.  I might just eat the sauce straight out of its container with a spoon.

But in all seriousness, I highly recommend measuring all the ingredients and having them ready to go before you start making the sauce, because caramel demands your utmost attention.  I've forgotten to pre-measure my ingredients before, and it has resulted in burnt caramel, which besides the whole inedible caramel thing, also involves layers of burnt sugar on the bottom on your saucepan, so trust me on this: burnt caramel = no bueno.

The best utensil to use when making caramel is a wooden spoon.  It doesn't conduct heat, which prevents crystallization, and sugar doesn't stick to it as much as it would to metal utensils.  (I don't remember where I learned that.  Probably from Alton Brown). Most caramel sauce recipes tell you to let the sugar boil without disturbing it.  When I have done this, it has resulted in burnt caramel.  However, when you stir continuously, the sugar takes forever to turn into caramel.  I recommend frequently (but not continuously) scraping the bottom of the pot with a wooden spoon, just to make sure the sugar doesn't get stuck to the bottom and burn.  One more tip, courtesy of the Baked cookbook: When you're done with the sauce, boil some water in the pot with your utensils inside - it will dissolve the sticky, stuck-on sugar.  It will make clean-up way easier.  You're welcome.

Salted Caramel Sauce
Adapted from Food and Wine
(Makes 3 cups of caramel)

2 cups sugar
1/2 cup water
2 tablespoons light corn syrup
1 1/2 cup heavy cream
8 tablespoons unsalted butter
3 teaspoons flaky sea salt (The recipe recommends a grey salt, such as Maldon, but my dad gave me some Hawaiian salt the last time I visited.  Don't use table salt!  It's way too strong!)

In a medium saucepan, combine sugar, water, and corn syrup.  Bring the mixture to a boil.  Using a wet pastry brush, wash down crysals on the side of the pan.  Boil over high heat, frequently scraping the bottom of the pot with a wooden spoon, until it turns a deep amber color, about 6 minutes (it took me about 15, but I was very worried about burning it).  Remove the saucepan from heat and carefully whisk in cream, butter, and salt.  The caramel will probably seize when you stir in the cream, but just keep stirring (return the pot to low heat if necessary) and the clumps will eventually dissolve.  Let caramel cool to room temperature.

The caramel can be refrigerated for up to two weeks.  Rewarm the sauce before serving.

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