Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Homemade Caramel Sauce

I think that caramel--especially homemade caramel--is absolutely the most luscious thing in the whole world.  Sweet and buttery, smooth and creamy, it is the perfect add-on to just about anything!  Ice cream? Yep.  Apples?  Yep.  Whipped cream?  Yep.  Popcorn?  Yep.  Pizza?  Well....maybe if it is an apple pizza, but sure!  Add it on!!  Pie?  Absolutely!  Stay tuned to see what kind of pie I made with this caramel sauce....

I personally think it is a good idea to make up a batch just to keep in the fridge.  A staple, that you keep on hand at all times.  Because you know that there will be emergency situations that will require a generous drizzle of this lusciousness.  Caramel just makes the world a better place.

Making caramel is easy, but it will require constant supervision on your part.  Watch your temperature closely as you are cooking the sugar--for me the sugar started to burn way before it reached the "required" temperature.  You need to get the sugar dark enough for the intense caramel flavor to come through, so don't undercook it.  Whisking in the warm cream will cause the sugar to bubble furiously, so keep your face away and whisk quickly and continuously while you stream the cream in slowly.  If any of the sugar seizes up and hardens, just place your saucepan back over the heat to melt it again, still whisking away!  Also, make sure you use heatproof utensils, like a wooden spoon or a heatproof silicon whisk.  We're talking about lava-like temperatures of melted sugar!  Let it cool a bit before you serve it, so it thickens up.

Homemade Caramel Sauce
Adapted from My Baking Addiction

1 cup sugar
1 tablespoon corn syrup
1/4 liquid cup water
1/2 liquid cup heavy cream, heated until warm
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

In a heavy saucepan (at least 5 cup capacity), stir together the sugar, syrup, and water until the sugar is completely moistened. Place your candy thermometer into the pot, making sure that the tip in immersed into the sugar mixture.

Heat, stirring constantly, until the sugar dissolves and the syrup is bubbling. Stop stirring completely and allow it to boil undisturbed until it turns a deep amber (380°F.) *See my note above:  my sugar started to burn before I got to this temperature, so use your best judgement to determine when the sugar is dark enough and hot enough. Immediately remove it from the heat and slowly and carefully pour the hot cream slowly into the caramel, whisking constantly. It will bubble up furiously.
Use a high-temperature heat-resistant rubber spatula or whisk or wooden spoon to stir the mixture until smooth, scraping up the thicker part that settles on the bottom. If any lumps develop, return the pan to the heat and stir until they dissolve. Stir in the butter. The mixture will be streaky but become uniform after cooling slightly and stirring.

Allow the sauce to cool for 3 minutes. Gently stir in the vanilla extract.

Keep at room temperature for up to 3 days; refrigerated, about 3 months. I stored mine in a Mason canning jar.  To reheat, simply place in a microwave safe container and heat for about 45-60 seconds. Stir well.

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