Sunday, January 29, 2012

Salted Caramel Sauce

I have a serious relationship with salted caramel.  I love it.  And true love lasts a lifetime.
When I go to my favorite gelato place in Paris, I always pick salted caramel as one of my flavors.  Always.  The summer of 2010 I probably went to that shop at least 7 or 8 times within the span of a couple weeks, and I stayed loyal to my salted caramel.
During the first few months of medical school when I studying for exams, my stress food was Bequet sea salt caramels.  I could go through 3 to 5 in a day.  When B. came to visit in September, he recognized the importance of salted caramel in my life and he bought me a ridiculous amount, to get me through my sleepless study nights.
At Co Co Sala, a restaurant/lounge in DC, even when I go to get drinks with my friends or my sister, I order the [virgin] salted caramel hot chocolate along with whatever cocktail I'm having for the night.

So as you see, salted caramel is very dear to me.  And yet, for all this, I never made my own salted caramel.  I never thought to experiment.  Honestly, it was because I think making caramel can be a hassle.  I've made caramels that cracked before, and I take it personally when that happens.  Honestly, it's a little heart-breaking.  You put all this love into coaxing a little pot of sugar and water to cook into something lovely and then it seizes into huge sugar clumps that are impossible to dissolve and that make you want to cry.  Heart breaking.

Clearly, I get too emotionally involved when it comes to food.

But no!  I shall be brave.  I shall put my heart on the line for true love.  It is worth the risk.  Salted caramel, you shall be mine.

It was a combination of things that led to this.  First, I found a very good deal on some beautiful grey sea salt (coarse sel gris de Guérande if you're curious).  Then I had some extra heavy cream on hand, leftover from making cheesecake.  And, of course, I had a craving.  I had no more salted caramel on hand and I wasn't going to go out and buy some.  So I decided to try.  And now I can't believe I waited all this time to discover this.

If you only make one caramel recipe all your life, let the recipe below be it.  Really.  I know caramels can be intimidating, I know salted caramel can sometimes seem like it's not worth the hype, I know I have a habit of telling you readers you have to try the recipes I post here.  But honestly, this is so worth it.  It will only take a few minutes and four simple ingredients, and when I say "ingredients," one of them is water.  That's it.  And then bliss, love, and happiness will be all yours.

You can eat this caramel sauce with everything.  Apples.  Crackers.  Pears.  Vanilla ice cream.  This may sound crazy, but I even used it to glaze some ribs the other day.  Tasted fantastic.  You can also use this to make amazing hot chocolate.  Just stir a spoonful or two into a glass of hot milk and cocoa.

And.  And.  If you feel so inclined, you can use this sauce to make an incredible salted caramel frosting.  Yes.  I'm going to hold off on sharing that recipe for you just yet (because it's also going to be accompanied by a recipe for salted caramel cupcakes), but let me tell you this: oh. my. god.

C'mon, how can you resist?

Salted Caramel Sauce
1 cup granulated sugar
2 tbsp water
1/2 cup heavy cream, at room temperature
1/2 tsp sea salt (again, I used the Sel Gris De Guérande)

Combine the sugar and water and melt over medium high heat in a small pot. Slowly whisk the sugar as it melts and cook until it becomes a deep amber color, this process takes about 8-10 minutes.  [Using medium high heat, not high, and whisking slowly are both ways of making caramel which I've found help prevent seizing and clumping]
Turn down heat very low and add the heavy cream slowly.  The mixture will foam/bubble.  Whisk until you get a smooth sauce.  While whisking, sprinkle in the sea salt.  [Or, you can always pre-salt the heavy cream while it comes to room temperature]
Remove from heat and allow to cool.
Enjoy with everything.

Refrigerated, this will keep in a glass jar for at least 2 weeks.  [You can use an old jam jar that has been thoroughly washed!]


  1. When I saw this I had to make it! I've never made a caramel before, and the first time I tried this recipe, I burned it. Determined the second time, it was the most wonderful thing I've ever made. Thanks so much for this blog, I will definitely be making more from it!

  2. I'm so glad your second caramel experience turned out well! If you enjoy this caramel, I think you'll really enjoy the salted caramel cupcakes & frosting recipe I posted more recently :)

  3. When do you add the salt in the mix?

    1. Hi, sorry I just updated the recipe! The salt is added at the same time/after the heavy cream. Or, if you so choose, you can add the salt directly to the cream first, and then the salted cream to the caramel.