Words aptly spoken by my salted caramel-loving friend. The only reason I made this was that I was visiting her and knew she was a fan of the stuff; I’m SO glad that I did.
Until now, I’ve never cared for caramel. Ever since I was little, I never had much of a sweet tooth (weiird, considering how much I like baking), and eating caramel always left me feeling sick afterwards. It also always seemed rather one-dimensional to me flavor-wise…just really sweet and nothing much else. Not worth feeling sick over. Having made this, however, I’m now left wondering if all the caramel I’ve tried in the past has just been bad caramel or something (is there such a thing?) because I really like THIS stuff. It’s almost addictive. The salt not only balances out the sweetness of the caramel and appeals to my salty tooth, but it also brings out the richness of the butter and cream, and the darkness of the caramelized sugar.
One of my favorite things about this recipe is that it’s simple and only takes 20 minutes or so. The only real trick is to cook the sugar long enough to develop a dark enough flavor. Otherwise, your caramel will just taste sweet and lack depth (see pictures and description below for more on cooking the sugar).
The deliciousness and ease of making this also makes for an awesome quick, easy, personal gift…that is, if you can keep from eating all of it!
SALTED CARAMEL SAUCE
followed almost exactly from Brown Eyed Baker
Yields 1 cup (one 8.5 oz canning jar)
1 c. granulated sugar
6 Tbsp. unsalted butter, RT and cut into pieces
1/2 c. heavy cream, RT
1/2 Tbps of fleur de sel or any flaky salt (feel free to adjust to taste)
1. Add sugar in an even layer to the bottom of a heavy pot. (When choosing a pot, choose one that is 1-2 quarts. It may seem too large, but when you add the butter and cream, the contents of the pot will bubble violently; you want to leave plenty of space for this.)
2. Heat the sugar over medium-high heat on the stove. Whisk as it begins to melt. The sugar will clump, which is normal; it will melt back down into liquid.
3. When the sugar has completely melted, stop whisking immediately. (I read somewhere that continuing to stir the sugar might result in the mixture seizing, but I don’t know if this is true; I totally forgot to stop the first time I made this, and whisked happily and obliviously away the entire time…nothing bad happened).
4. Swirl the pan as the sugar cooks. You want the sugar to cook until it reaches a dark amber color (350 degrees F if you have a thermometer). Tip: Since the line between adequately cooked and burnt is a fine one (a matter of seconds), I like to cook it over heat until it turns a dark golden color, then remove it from the flame and continue to swirl it until it turns a little darker. I’ve noticed that during the transition from golden to dark amber, the mixture starts to smell like it’s about to burn. However, as it gets closer to reaching the ideal darker hue, the smell actually transforms into a more “toasted” smell rather than burnt one, if that makes sense.
5. Return the pot to the stove, and add all the butter pieces at once. Be careful as the mixture bubbles up. Whisk the butter into the sugar.
6. Once the butter is completely melted, remove the pot from the stove, and slowly pour the cream into the caramel. Be careful; the mixture will bubble violently here as well.
7. Whisk until the cream is incorporated, and the mixture is smooth.
8. Add the salt and whisk to incorporate.
9. Pour into a clean jar. Optional: Sterilize your empty jar beforehand by boiling it for 10 minutes at elevations less than 1,000 ft. At higher elevations, add 1 additional minute per 1,000 additional feet. Make sure your lid is submerged in water at all times. (Source: National Center for Home Food Preservation)
10. The sauce is ready to be used right away. Store in refrigerator for up to two weeks. Warm before using.