Sunday, January 16, 2011

Caramel Sauce

I came across this sauce recipe the other day when I was looking for hot drinks. (I found it, word for word, in several places, so I'm not sure where the credit goes.) I really like caramel on my ice cream, but for some reason never seem to buy the topping. This looked simple to make, although I have never had good luck making caramel candy at Christmas time. I have come close to catching my kitchen on fire, but not getting edible results.

We are going into our second snow storm system for this week, so I figured there was no better time to risk it.

Add 1/4 cup water to a cup of sugar. Stir this well and cook until the sugar dissolves. I know. This ratio doesn't seem to have a prayer, but heat it over medium heat, stirring constantly.
Once it starts to boil, stop stirring. Start to boil time for me was about 10 minutes.
And just let it boil. Do not stir. You can swirl the pan a little bit if you get antsy, but DO NOT STIR!

About five minutes later, you will see the mixture start to turn a little bit brown. This is good. Remember, caramel is brown. See all that sugar crystallizing at the top? Leave it there. This is such a strain on my OCD tendencies, but if you bring all that back in, your caramel will have more of a grainy texture. This is actually true for any soft candy you make at home.
Watch this very carefully and swirl some more if you get nervous. You will probably start to get kind of a chemical smell here. That's okay as long as it's not burning. When you get a nice caramel brown color, remove the pan from the heat.
Pour in a half a cup of heavy cream and a little bit of vanilla to your burnt sugar.

Whisk. And whisk. And whisk some more. You will get a big clump of caramel forming on your whisk. Just ignore it and keep whisking. Move your pan back to low heat to help that solid chunk melt back in. Whisk until you get a nice smooth mixture.
This will make about 1 cup.
Pour it into a nice pretty container.
If you have one. Otherwise, just pour it into a clear one. Clear is a must. You HAVE to be able to see this. Isn't it gorgeous?
Then drink it. Just kidding. Sort of. But at least let it cool. Bad things happen when you try to drink hot caramel. Just trust me on this one.
The recipe as it is written, although not horribly so, is a little bit sweet for me. I think next time I will add in a pinch of salt.

It is still really, really yummy. I had some on yogurt for breakfast (weird, I know, but we are out of ice cream). And I had some on a spoon.

Click here for Printable Recipe

Caramel Sauce
1/4 c water
1 c sugar
1/2 c heavy cream
dash of vanilla extract
Combine water and sugar in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Cook until sugar dissolves. Once dissolved, do not stir! Allow the mixture to boil until the sugar turns a caramel brown (about 350 degrees F on a candy thermometer). This should take about 5 minutes, swirling the pan periodically to keep the mixture from burning, especially at the end of the 5 minutes.
ake the sugar mixture off of the heat. Carefully whisk in the cream and vanilla.
Place the pot over low heat and continue whisking until the sauce returns to a smooth texture. Allow the caramel to cool at room temperature before refrigerating.

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