Whenever you find yourself craving something ridiculously delicious, but don’t want to spend ages in the kitchen, go for this stuff! This salted caramel sauce is amaaaaazing! Seriously, don’t even get me started. It’s super easy to make, you just need five very basic ingredients to make it and it takes no time at all to cook it up! I’ve fallen head over heels in love with this stuff. And so has the Rocking Rebel!
But first things first, let’s start this post with a little context…
Last Friday, after I spent an entire day working on my thesis, I made the best cheesecake ever. Like: ever! The last time I’d made it was for my youngest sister’s birthday last September, but because it was devoured before I’d had time to take a picture of it, it never made it onto the blog. So I thought: let’s make it again! I even had the perfect excuse: the Rocking Rebel’s belated birthday party.
I had it all figured out. I would make said cheesecake – a delicious, dense, silky white chocolate cheesecake with fresh raspberries and a raspberry swirl on top – and I would make the Rocking Rebel’s personal favorite: an amazing apple sheet pie with a streusel topping. In other words, two amazing cakes! Well, technically one cake and one pie, but definitely two potential blog post!
Went I wanted to photograph the cheesecake on Saturday, the weather was not particularly cooperative. Sunlight, dark, stormy clouds, sunlight again… it was crazy! It just wasn’t my day, photography-wise. In fact, I couldn’t, for the life of me, take a decent photo of my gorgeous cheesecake! It was soooo frustrating!
So we ate it. We ate the entire thing. And the apple sheet pie with streusel topping. We ate that too. I never even got a chance to take a picture of it. I was too busy filling 100 balloons with helium/inhaling helium and laughing my ass off because I sounded like a smurf. Fun? Yes! Delicious? Yes! Good for the blog? No… Not particularly…
And after all that cheesecake and apple sheet pie, did I feel like baking much? Um, no… So I cooked instead. I cooked caramel, because caramel reminds me of fall and apples and everything that was so delicious and fally about that amazing apple sheet pie.
Which makes me love it even more. Plus, you’ll only need five ingredients! You’ll need sugar, of course, because there’s no caramel without sugar. Then you’ll need some water, to make the whole caramel-making process a little easier. You’ll need cream, because the cream makes the caramel saucy. Butter, because life is just better with butter and so is caramel sauce. And finally salt, to… um, salt it!
Because we’re making SALTED caramel sauce here. No ordinary, unsalted caramel sauce.
Personally, I like both unsalted and salted caramel. I mean, who would ever say ‘no’ to caramel? Only an idiot, right? So yeah, if anyone offers me unsalted caramel, I’m happy. But ever since I discovered the yumminess of salted caramel, it has been the only variety of caramel that has come out of my kitchen! That’s right: whenever I make caramel, I add salt. It just balances out the sweetness. It makes the flavor profile just a lot more interesting. More complex.
Men? I don’t like them complex and complicated. A few days ago I watched Jane Eyre on Netflix (because I read the book once and I couldn’t remember what it was about. And yes, I study English Literature) and I couldn’t wrap my head around the fact that eventually Jane falls in love with such a grumpy, unpleasant, annoying guy. Who would want that? She’s such a weirdo…
But where was I? Oh right, caramel! Bottom line: I like it salted!
I salt my caramel sauce with sea salt flakes. You can also use ordinary table salt, but I like to use sea salt because it’s easier to dissolve into the caramel (like kosher salt, which you can also use!). However, if you do decide to use table salt, only use about ¼ teaspoon or something. Because of it’s finer salt crystals, 1 teaspoon of table salt is actually a lot more salt than 1 teaspoon of sea salt or kosher salt, because the smaller crystals pack together much closer. I know some home bakers like to salt their caramel sauce by simply using salted butter, but I prefer to be in complete control of how much salt I add, so I usually use unsalted butter for everything.
Plus, there’s really not enough butter in my recipe to properly salt it this way! Only two tablespoons. Not really that much. I like to add butter to my caramel sauce, because fat carries flavor, but if you add too much the caramel becomes a bit too greasy, in my opinion. However, used in small quantities, the butter gives the caramel a delicious texture and flavor!
Which brings me to the water in my recipe. You only need a little water to make this caramel sauce, and it completely cooks off. As in: it evaporates as the sugar syrup cooks. By mixing the sugar with a little water, you make sure that the sugar crystals dissolve properly. This helps prevent crystallization of the sugar and ensures that the caramel cooks evenly. Whenever you make a dry caramel (aka: without the added water) it can get a bit lumpy, because part of the sugar melts and caramelizes before the rest of the sugar has properly melted. The result? Well, a perfect caramel, if you’re lucky. However, if you’re not lucky or haven’t been paying attention to what you were doing, you either end up with a smooth, but burned caramel, or a golden, but slightly lumpy caramel.
And caramel should be smooth, golden and easy to make! And this really is the easiest way to make caramel…
Oh, one last tip: dip a clean pastry brush in a little water and use it to clean the sides of the pan as the sugar syrup cooks. As the sugar syrup cooks, it bubbles and splatters, and little drops of sugar syrup splatter up against the sides of the pan. These drops tend to burn, but if you keep washing them away with a clean, wet brush, this doesn’t happen.
I don’t think it’s completely necessary to do this (although one burned speck can negatively affect the flavor of the entire batch of caramel), but I always do it anyway. It keeps my caramel clean and smooth and delicious!
And now if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to get myself a spoonful of this stuff!
- 200g (or 1 cup) granulated sugar
- 60ml (or ¼ cup) water
- 30g (or 2 tablespoons) unsalted butter, cubed
- 120ml (or ½ cup) heavy whipping cream
- 1 to 1¼ teaspoon sea salt (or kosher salt)
- Start by filling your kitchen sink with about 5-cm/2-inches of cold water. Once the caramel is done, you need to dunk the bottom of the pan in this cold water bath to stop the caramel from cooking.
- Add the sugar and the water to a medium-sized, light-colored saucepan. The light color of the saucepan makes it easy to monitor the color of the caramel as it cooks. Heat over low heat, stirring with a metal spoon until the sugar has dissolved.
- Crank up the heat to medium-high and cook to a golden caramel. Don't stir it at this point. The syrup will first start to caramelize at the edge of the pan. Once this happens, you can gently whisk the caramel to get an even color.
- Once you're happy with the color of the caramel, turn the heat down and whisk in the cubed butter. The caramel will sizzle and bubble once you add the butter. This is normal.
- Whisk gently and crank up the heat to medium-high again.
- Carefully drizzle in the cream, whisking continuously. Again, the caramel will bubble and sizzle, so be careful. Once all the cream has been added, turn the heat down, stop whisking and allow to cook for 1 minute. Then remove the pan from the heat and dunk the bottom of the pan into the water bath in the sink.
- Whisk in the salt. Allow the caramel to cool slightly.
- Serve the caramel sauce warm or pour the caramel into a heatproof container, such as a clean jar, and allow it to cool to room temperature. The caramel will keep, covered in the fridge, for about 4 weeks.