Whenever I see these advertisements of chocolates or cookies with a caramel oozing out from the inside, my heart just skips a beat. Vanilla ice cream with a drizzle of that beautiful buttery caramel is like none other. For a long time, it was only caramel but in the 2000s, the focus shifted to salted caramel. French Chef Pierre Hermé invented the salted caramel macaron in the 1990s and slowly, it gained it’s popularity. Once the Americans got their understanding of the taste, it wasn’t long till salted caramel became a household name with Starbucks and other retail giants offering desserts with salted caramel. Read more here. (Link)
My disasters with salted caramel
It’s not that I was a pro at salted caramel from the word ‘go’. I’m talking about a time when we didn’t have too many youtube videos guiding us and we had to rely on cook book or tv shows, where you quickly jot down the recipes. Yes, I am one of those who has diares of recipes from various food shows on TV from the 1990s. Till tatasky came with a recording option, I had to quickly write down recipes while watching the show. The first couple of times of makng salted caramel was an absolute disaster. I would always go wrong in making the perfect wet caramel. Many cups of sugar has been wasted over the years in perfecting the recipe, without much guidance. I have burnt my fingers too in. Stirred with a metal spoon while making the caramel and spoiling it. Over caramelised and burnt. So many mishaps have taken place. You are not alone out there.
Tips to make the perfect Salted Caramel
I know of many experts who can make a dry caramel. I rely heavily on a wet caramel. What is a wet caramel? When you melt the sugar with water, it is called a wet caramel. Some people simply melt sugar and caramelise. The most important part is to use a heavy bottomed saucepan or frying pan with little higher sidesand of a lighter colour, so that you can undeerstand the colour of the caramel by looking at it. Also, the base of the pan should be large enough, so that you can spread the sugar evenly. Too small a base means over crowding of the sugar and it takes longer to caramelise. Covering and making the caramel is another trick, which helps in even caramelisation.
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When you cover the lid and let the sugar melt, while gently swirling the pan, the little water droplets from the vapour goes back into the pan. This way, there isn’t any chance of the sugar over burning. Many recipes with instruct you to use a ruber spatula or wooden spoon to stir or using a wet brush to clean the sides. I would say, don’t do any of it. Just swirl the pan once in a while. That should do. Once the sugar has melted and has started bubbling, you cannot take our eyes off the pan. The minute it starts to change colour, keep a watch and swirl when needed. The colour should change to a deep amber and then switch off the flame and add the cream. You can use fresh cream or heavy cream. Adding butter gives a better smooth texture. A little butter is always better.
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Serving suggestions and storing
Salted caramel sauce thickens as it cools down. So, pour it in air tight jars while it is warm. You can keep it in the refrigerator and before serving, just warm it in the microwave for few seconds. You can also warm in a double boiler. Salted caramel sauce can be used to drizzle on ice creams. You can use it for pancakes, brownies or any cakes. You can also make salted caramel squares and use it for making cookies and brownies. Cut up fruits and dip in salted caramel and have them. It’s an easy way to feed fruits to children.
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Do it Youself Salted Caramel
- 1 cup granulated sugar
- 1/3 cup water
- 1 cup cream fresh cream or heavy cream
- 2 tbsp salted butter
- extra sea salt if required
- Take a heavy bottomed sauce pan or frying pan with a lighter colour base. The diameter of the base of the pan should be such that you can spread a thin layer of sugar evenly in the pan.
- Pour the water and turn on the heat. Stir it once to spread the water and sugar. Then keep the gas on medium flame and cover the pan.
- Let the sugar melt. Uncover and check if the suagr has melted and then swirl the pan once. Cover it again and let it cook.
- The sugar will start to bubble and let all the water droplets fall back into the pan. Once the sugar has started to bubble too much and thicken, remove the cover and gently swirl the pan again.
- You can now see the sugar slowly changing colour. Let it change colour to a deep amber, where you can get a slight bitter smell. At that point turn off the gas. Add cream to it but carefully. It starts to bubble and rise. Instantly stir with a rubber spatula or a whisk and incororate the cream with the sugar.
- Then add 2 tbsps of butter and whisk it in. Let the butter melt in the caramel sauce. If you are using salted butter, you don't need to add salt. However, that's on your taste and can add some sea salt if you like. Then pour in a jar and keep it outside to cool down.
- Once cooled, store in the refrigerator and follow instructions of serving as mentiioned in the post above.