Recipe: Salted Caramel Sauce
Our Elegant Five Course New Years Eve Menu was good. Really good. So good in fact that we never got to the fifth course. It’s not that we didn’t want to…or that we didn’t truly believe that after a brief reprieve by the fire and a round of Cards Against Humanity we would feel ready. We truly did believe. But it never happened.
The Cheese Course that followed the Foie Gras, that was hot on the heels of the Arugula Pear Salad, that burst in after the Canlis Prawns were each more spectacular than the last and left us sitting around, laughing as we shared highlights and lowlights of 2012 (only I would literally force guests to do self evaluations at a dinner party).
And this is too bad, because the fifth course, Salted Caramel Sauce Served with Vanilla Gelato would have been good. Really good.
In the spirit of full disclosure, this recipe is finicky. The first time I made it, I burned it just ever so slightly. The second batch was perfect. The third and the fourth batch turned to crystallized messes. Take two, with my dear friend Emma, warranted slightly more positive results until we cracked the code of the three mission critical steps to this sweet, salty deliciousness.
- Go for consistent higher heat, no fussing turning it up and down.
- Allow no crystallization – break it down with brush constantly so that your mixture doesn’t get chunky.
- No stirring after the initial whir.
This makes darling gifts when served in 4-ounce jars, but don’t forget to keep one (or three) for your own safe keeping as it truly is a perfect winter dessert when served over gelato, and holds it own just fine to boot when consumed directly out of the jar, while standing in the kitchen trying to remember what you were supposed to do next.
Salted Caramel Sauce – Makes Four, 4-oz Jars, can be doubled or halved.
- 1 1/2 cups granulated white sugar (brown sugar will work but it makes identifying the turn to golden very difficult)
- 1/2 cup water
- 1 cup heavy whipping cream
- 1 1/2 tablespoons salted butter
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1 teaspoon sea salt (best you can find)
- Four 4-ounce jelly jars with lids, cleaned and dried
- In a heavy bottomed medium saucepan over medium-high heat, combine the sugar and water. Stir with a wooden spoon. Bring to a boil and shake/swirl very often, but don’t stir, until it turns a medium amber color (about 15 minutes). You want it to be boiling, but if it smells like it’s burning turn it down just every so slightly while still maintaining the boil. The shaking and swirling will cause sugar to crystallize on the side. Be judicious in constantly brushing it down into the mixture with a pastry brush so that it doesn’t harden, which can ruin your batch.
- Once the color has turned (it happens quickly near the end) remove the pan from heat and wearing an oven mitt, pour in the cream. If you’ve had it hot enough it will steam and bubble like crazy. Being careful not to get burned, stir like mad while adding in the butter, vanilla, and sea salt. This part is helpful to do with a friend as one can add the ingredients while the other stirs. Stir well to combine. It should be a golden, caramel color. Too dark and you over cooked it, too light and you undercooked it. **NOTE** The undercooked can be salvaged by making a second batch and then combining the two to balance out the colors. Try the overcooked…if it tastes burned, call it Smoky Salted Caramel Sauce.
- Pour it into a 4 cup glass measuring cup and transfer to jars. Allow to cool before adding lids.
- Keep refrigerated. Good for 2-3 weeks, though I’d be shocked if it lasted that long.