Thursday, October 18, 2012

Caramel Lust - Fleur de Sel Caramel Sauce

Is there anyone out there that doesn't love good caramel?  I didn't think so.  I absolutely LOVE it.  How could anyone NOT love caramel?  Sugar that has been melted and cooked into a glowing amber mass of deliciousness that is then loaded up with Butter and Heavy Cream.  I mean, this is the stuff that dreams are made of, right?

My favorite form of caramel is salted caramel.  It's that salty-sweet thing.  I realize that not everyone is crazy about this contrast the way that I am, but I will say this --  If it was possible to fill a Olympic sized pool with salted caramel sauce, I would swim in it.  Well, not so much swim as eat my way from one side to the other.

It's great over ice cream, drizzled on brownies, used as a dipping sauce for apple wedges, or to simply eat with a large spoon.  (Which is what I usually end up doing) Whatever manner in which you choose to consume your caramel sauce, it's all good. 

This sauce is fairly forgiving when it comes to the amount of salt and the amount of Heavy Cream.  The recipe I am about to give is for a fairly thick sauce, containing only 1/2 cup of Heavy cream, if you find that this is a little to thick for your taste, simply increase the Heavy Cream to 2/3 cup.  You will be surprised at the difference that small amount of Heavy Cream will make.  If you would prefer it to be thicker, lower the Heavy Cream content to 1/3 cup.  Likewise, if you are not a fan of Salt Caramel, reduce the Salt from 1 1/2 teaspoons to 1 or even 1/2.  You will still need SOME salt, but 1 teaspoon will give you a subtle saltiness while 1/2 teaspoon will simply augment the flavor of the caramel sauce without being intrusive.

If you are worried about crystallization in your final sauce, as melted Sugar can be somewhat finicky on occasion, simply add 1/2 teaspoon of Lemon Juice when you add the butter.  This will "invert" the Sugar, which will reduce the chances of sugar crystals forming in the final Caramel.

Remember, candy making involves extremely hot and sticky melted sugar.  Please be especially cautious when making caramel.  Melted sugar (which is already like lava) does not even begin to change color until around 320 degrees.  This can cause a rather serious burn.  Please, please, pleeeeez.....  Be careful.

OK, harshed everyone's mellow, let's get our Caramel on!

Fleur de Sel Caramel Sauce

(on Coffee Ice Cream)

1 cup (7.1oz) (200g) Granulated Sugar

6 TB Unsalted Butter
optional - 1/2 tsp Lemon Juice
1/2 cup (4 oz)(118ml) Heavy Cream
1 1/2 tsp Fleur de Sel (though you can use Kosher salt if you like)

Place the Sugar in a deep, heavy bottomed saucepan, set over medium flame.

Assemble the rest of your ingredients, because once the sugar begins to change color, it all happens REALLY fast (about 1 minute from Sugar melt to Caramel Sauce).  So, mise en place in place everybody.
Cut the 6 TB of Butter into 7-8 slices.

Measure out the Heavy Cream.

And don't forget the Salt, or the Lemon Juice (if your using it).

Also, get a whisk ready....  I happen to be using a new one that my mother found for me while on vacation back in September.  Pretty cool design for getting in the corners of the saucepan.  (Thanks Mom!)

OK, by now, there should be a spot, near the center of the pan, that you can see "liquid" sugar beginning to peak through the dry sugar....  Let it keep going (no touching the pan)

Once the liquid sugar begins to show around the edges, give the pan a little shake. (Just a little one)

This will move things around slightly, and allow some of the dry sugar still floating on the liquid below, to mix in just a little.

Eventually, you will have a nice smooth dark chestnut colored elixir of deliciousness.

Once the Sugar has melted completely and there are no little chunks of unmelted sugar, add the Butter (and lemon juice if using) and begin whisking the butter in.

The syrup will begin to bubble a little as the small amount of water in the butter comes out of emulsion and begins to boil away.

Once the butter has been whisked in well, remove the saucepan from the flame and add the Heavy Cream and whisk like a mad man (or woman) to make sure than any "solidified" bits will reincorporate into a smooth sauce.

This is when the mixture will do some seriously dangerous bubbling, steaming and sputtering (thus the warning to be careful, and the use of a deep pan to contain the volcano effect)

When the sputtering subsides, quickly whisk in your chosen amount of Fleur de Sel (or Kosher Salt)

Once you have a smooth mixture, pour it into a heat resistant bowl (without scraping the pan, just in case there are undissolved sugar crystals) and allow to come to room temperature.

When cooled, store in a squeeze bottle. I like to bestow the "honor" of storing my caramel sauce upon one of my many empty "Honey Bears" I have lurking in my kitchen.  Or should I say "Caramel Bears"?

And there you have it.  Fleur de Sel Caramel sauce whenever you want it.  Oh Yeah!

Now if you will excuse me, I need to attend to the saucepan.  True, there isn't enough left in the pan for me to swim in, but there's enough to bury my face in.  :)



Patti T. said...

This combination of flavors has got to be my favorite new found flavor. I think I got started with this when I tried Trader Joe's salted caramel sauce. It did not last long in the cupboard. Next time I got two jars, that is when I decided this was very dangerous to have in my cupboard. (I even liked it in my coffee or tea.)

Anonymous said...

Very addictive, wonderfully delicious and super on fresh bartlett pears.