As I was anxiously watching the third batch of Fleur de Sel Caramel bubble itself up to soft-ball stage, I was sending prayer after prayer up the stainless steel chimney hood to the Gourmet Gods that the caramel would set properly. This was my third attempt. What if the caramel didn’t set up?
[Light bulb comes on]
Ooooh. So WHAT if it didn’t set? There, staring at me from the kitchen windowsill, were six very cute 1/2 cup jars that I’d picked up at World Market days earlier. I’d intended on making homemade dulce de leche to add to gift baskets but I didn’t want to boil the cans and the in-the-oven method I tried the day before went terribly wrong (that poor pie plate might never be the same). Just like that, the jars had been repurposed.
Thick and creamy and studded with tiny flecks of vanilla bean, the sauce is fantastic warmed and drizzled on a steamy mug of whipped cream-topped dark hot chocolate.
Salted Caramel Sauce
A sweet & salty caramel sauce with vanilla beans, perfect for serving over ice cream, swirling into brownie batter, and a hundred other uses.
- 1 vanilla pod
- 1 cup heavy cream
- 5 Tbsp unsalted butter, cut into pieces (at Christmas, I use the fancy European-style butter)
- 2 tsp sea salt or fleur de sel
- 1 1/2 cups sugar
- 1/4 cup light corn syrup
- 1/4 cup water
- Use a knife and slit the vanilla pod in half along the length of the bean, stopping about 1/2 inch from the end (this way, the pod stays in tact for easy retrieval and disposal). Scrape each side of the pod with the knife and place the beans and pod in a small sauce pan.
- Add cream, butter, and salt to the sauce pan and warm until boiling.
- Turn off heat and set aside.
- Boil sugar, corn syrup, and water in a 3- to 4-quart heavy saucepan, stirring until sugar is dissolved.
- Boil, without stirring but gently swirling pan, until mixture is a golden caramel.
- Pluck vanilla pod from the cream mixture and carefully add the cream mixture to the caramel (mixture will bubble up) and simmer, stirring frequently, for 3 minutes.
- Pour into heat-safe glass measuring cup or dish (that can accommodate approx 3 cups). Let sit until cool.
- Pour into small glass jars and store in the fridge.
- Warm the sauce and use in dark hot chocolate, bread pudding, over ice cream and cheesecake, or on pancakes and french toast.
Yields: ~2 cups
Estimated time: 20 minutes