(Almost) Fool-proof salted caramel sauce

If you’ve jumped onto the salted caramel craze and devoured all manner of salted caramel goodies, – chocolates (Bohemien), ice-cream (try Kohu Road), crepes (caramel sale crepe at La Forchette) and macaron (J’aime les macaron), you know just how addictive the flavour is.

Here’s an easy recipe on how to make your own salted caramel sauce to pour over desserts (like the homemade pavlova below), ice-creams and use in baking. This also makes an excellent gift. After burning way too many batches, I finally found a way to make fool-proof salted caramel sauce. This method takes a bit longer, but it works!

The trick is control the caramelization by dissolving the sugar in water first. If you don’t have a very good quality pot with a heavy base that heats evenly (like me), the no-water method will result in burnt sugar on hot spots on the pan. Even the tiniest amount of burnt sugar will ruin your sauce. Here are the tips:

  • Dissolve the sugar with some water, – this will mitigate hot spots in your pan and ensure all sugar crystals have dissolved (optional, – a tablespoon of glucose syrup will stop caramel sauce seizing)
  • Use warmed cream (the colder the cream, the more spluttering you’ll get)
  • Use a candy thermometer, – the syrup needs to reach 170°C.
  • Sieve the sauce to remove any sugar crystals

Ingredients (makes 3 cups):
2 cups white sugar (either granulated or caster)
½ cup water
1 cup cream, warmed to room temperature
60g butter, cut into small pieces
1 tbsp Maldon sea salt
candy thermometer
2 sterile jars or bottles

Place a medium saucepan with a heavy bottom onto medium heat. Pour in the sugar and the water. Stir gently to dissolve the sugar crystals. Ensure all the sugar is totally dissolved.

Put in the candy thermometer, and heat the sugar syrup for ~10 minutes, bubbling as the water evaporates. Do not stir, just swirl the pan to move the syrup around if required. Take out your spatula, rinse and dry well. You want to make sure there are no sugar crystals on the spatula which can cause the caramel to seize later. (You cannot re-melt seized caramel, – trust me, I’ve tried). Some recipes also add in a tablespoon of glucose syrup to stop this from happening.

While you wait, warm the cream in the microwave. Cut butter into small pieces.

As the temperature increases, the, the clear syrup will take on a golden hue, initially around the edges. Swirl the saucepan gently to enable even cooking. The syrup will bubble furiously and will spit, – syrup which hits the wall of the saucepan will crystallise.

When the temperature reaches 165°C, take it off the heat. The temperature will continue to increase. Once it hit 170°C, pour in the warmed cream, and stir furiously. It will gradually incorporate.

Then stir in the Maldon salt and butter. The syrup will take on a glossy appearance.

Cool for 10 minutes. Using a small sieve, pour the sauce into the prepared jars or bottles. Store in the fridge for up to a month.

This has been submitted to the Sweet New Zealand monthly Kiwi blogging event, created and hosted this month by the delightful Alessandra.

5 thoughts on “(Almost) Fool-proof salted caramel sauce

  1. Nom Nom Panda says:

    Salted butter caramel is one of my favourite flavours!

    If your sugar syrup crystallises, you can actually save it by putting enough water into your saucepan to dissolve it all again. Look at the disaster I had here, and it turned out fine in the end.

    Also, if you don't have a candy thermometer (I mean, you do, but not everyone does), there is a cheat's recipe using brown sugar, and melting the butter into it right from the beginning (even Nigella does it). This is also the technique in the Christmas Crunch Recipe that I shared recently.

  2. Nom Nom Panda says:

    Please do and let me know! I like the cheat's version a lot, enough for me not to bother with the real thing. David Lebovitz does mention using alternative sugars to make a “thick caramel-like syrup”, and he also uses the cheat's version in his recipe for Chocolate-Covered Caramelized Matzoh Crunch. I imagine the real thing must be better though, so really keen to hear how big you think the difference is!

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