Sunday, October 17, 2010

Caramel Sauce

The pot on the left is an example of what you DON'T want to do to your caramel sauce!

(Yes, I realize that these pics are in the wrong order... one way that blogger is NOT user friendly!)
Yes, I was feeling rather adventerous. I have never made homemade caramel sauce, and usually whenever I have tried to concoct anything that requires the boiling and burning of sugar water, it doesn't end very pretty. This, however, has a happy ending!

I tried a new cupcake recipe that called for canola oil rather than butter. I will take a pass on this recipe from now on! It was listed as one of the winners in a Washington Post cupcake contest. I am not really sure who was tasting these cupcakes because it was pretty horrible compared to the recipe I traditionally use which contains a heapload of butter. YUM!

So, first things first was to make this new recipe. I somehow, in the process of using the oven timer, actually turned the oven off, so couldn't figure out why after 18 minutes in an oven at 350 these cupcakes were still batter. So I had a Homer Simpson moment. DOH! They turned out quite pretty and were the perfect size and shape. They just tasted a bit like moist cardboard. Made the buttercream icing, which is always wonderful and then it was onto the caramel sauce. I was totally intimidated. I had just enough ingredients to try it twice if the first attempt failed. My forethought saved me this time because I totally burnt the sugar water to an almost blackened mess and my whole house just reeked of the stuff. I am convined that there isn't a lot that smells worse than burnt sugar. It almost stings your eyes it is so strong! Anywho, after reviewing the recipe again I realized that it called to take the sugar water off the heat source RIGHT as it started to smoke... not like 10 seconds later. And it worked! It was lovely and a little salty to balance out the sugar and just this perfect consistancy and this beautiful amber color. Oh, I could go on and on about this caramel. So I used it to make Vanilla Caramel cupcakes. Despite the bad cupcake recipe, I think it still tastes quite delectable and have to admit that I am somewhat of a snob now when it comes to cake recipes, so it probably wasn't as bad as I am making it out to be!
Anyway, without further ado, here is the recipe!

1 cup sugar
1/4 cup water
8 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into pieces
1/2 cup heavy cream
2 teaspoons vanilla
pinch of salt (if you use salted butter, DO NOT add the salt in - it will be overpowering)

Place sugar in a small heavy sauce pan. Pour water evenly over the top. Turn stove top to medium-high heat. Hold sauce pan by the handle and swirl occasionally until sugar has dissolved. (Avoid letting sugar burn until completely dissolved - Joy of Cooking lady really needs you to listen to this rule!)

Cover pan, turn heat to high, and boil for 2 minutes. Remove lid and continue to boil until syrup turns brown around the edges of the pan. Again grab the handle and swirl syrup occasionally until it turns a deep amber and begins to smoke. (Take it off the burner right when you see the first rise of smoke - HURRY!) Remove pan from heat. Add butter. Gently whisk, until all butter is mixed in. Stir in cream. If sauce become lumpy, set pan over low heat and stir until smooth then turn off heat again. Stir in vanilla and salt.

And don't forget, if you want to lick some out of the pan or off the spoon - it is going to be WAY hotter than you expect... sugar water is NOT like water water and cools VERY slowly!
I think I might go dip my finger in the pot of caramel in the fridge! (You can store it for a little bit in an airtight container.)

1 comment: