Sunday, September 17, 2017

Salted Caramel Sauce

We are almost to my second favorite season, fall, which means it is time for apples, apple cider, and by extension, caramel! Many people are a little intimidated by the thought of cooking sugar, but you shouldn't be. Real caramel is pretty easy to make and tastes way better than store bought.

There are two ways to make caramel: the slow way (wet method), which is a lot safer, and the quick way (dry method), which poses a few more challenges. I recommend trying the slow way until you know what you are looking before trying the quicker way. I'll go over both ways in this post.


1 c sugar
½ water (wet method only)
1 c heavy cream
1 tsp salt


Wet Method:

In a heavy-bottom saucepan with a lid, over low heat combine the sugar and water and stir until the sugar is totally dissolved. Put the lid on and bring to a boil. (Letting it boil with the lid on helps wash any stray sugar off the side of the pot that might lead to unwanted crystals that can make your caramel grainy.) Once the syrup has been boiling for a minute, remove the lid.

Now, leave it alone. At this point, before heat has changed the sugar into the delicious thing called caramel, if you agitate it too much, the sugar crystals can start to re-combine. This will create a chain reaction that would mean you have to start the whole thing over again. So be extra careful not to jostle the pot in any way.

Keep an eye on your boiling syrup, and when you see it start to turn amber, it is safe to give it a stir. At this point, the sugars are damaged to the point that they won't combine easily. Stir gently to even out any heat pockets.

Continue keeping sharp watch on the sugar syrup and watch the surface for any smoke. As soon as you see it smoking, remove it from the heat and pour in the heavy cream while stirring constantly. The cream is going to come to a rolling boil since the syrup is well over 300 degrees. Some of the sugar will harden instantly upon contact with the cool cream, but don't worry, if you keep stirring, all of that will work itself back in.

When the mixture is smooth and creamy, stir in the salt. You can store your caramel in the fridge for up to a month, but it tastes so good that I doubt it will last that long.

Dry Method:

Pour the sugar into a heavy-bottom saucepan over medium heat. Once the sugar starts to liquify and brown at the edges, you can use a spatula to gently pull the liquid bits toward the middle to even out the heat. If it burns, the caramel is ruined and you'll have to start over from scratch.

On the other hand, you have to be extremely careful to not over-stir, because if you do and it clumps up, you can ruin the whole batch. If it starts to form clumps, reduce the heat and keep stirring until it is all liquid, and when you're done you'll have to strain out the grainy bits.

If all goes well, keep stirring gently until you get a clear, deep amber before removing from the heat and stirring in the cream and salt and storing as described above.

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