Salted caramel – nectar of the gods! I rarely make it, because when I do, it takes every ounce of my will power (and I don’t have a lot to begin with) to not eat the whole pot within a day or two! It goes with pretty much most desserts, whether it’s drizzled over ice cream, apple tart, chocolate cake, sticky toffee pudding… the list goes on and on. Just please don’t blame me if you make it and it never meets any dessert and instead goes straight onto a spoon and into your mouth!
It’s pretty easy to make, but there are two main pitfalls that can ruin the caramel. The first one is easy to avoid – crystallisation of the sugar. Simply don’t stir the sugar/water mixture once you put it on the heat. If a cold spoon goes into the hot liquid, the sugar will seize and instantly crystallise. If you really think it needs a stir, just swirl the pot itself.
The second pitfall is taking the caramelisation process a little too far, resulting in a burnt caramel. Now some people actually love this, and will burn the sugar on purpose, but I don’t personally like it really dark. If you don’t want the burnt taste, take the sugar off the heat when it’s still more of a yellow/straw colour. The more amber the colour turns, the darker the caramel will be, and the more likely it is to teeter into burnt teritory. Another thing to remember is that the caramel will continue to cook when you take it off the heat, so be sure to have your butter and cream ready, and add them asap to stop it cooking further.
Finally, a small word of warning – boiling sugar is god damn hot! It’s a hell of a lot hotter than boiling water, and the temperature increases as the colour darkens. Be so so careful not to stick your finger in or splash any of it on you. Take care when adding the butter and cream as it will sputter for a few seconds.
Despite the pitfalls and the risk of burning, it is very easy to get right! The salted caramel is so rich and delicious, and really raises the stakes when making desserts. So don’t be afraid, and give it a lash!
- 150 g sugar (regular granulated is fine)
- 50 mL water
- 90 g butter (chopped into small pieces)
- 90 mL double cream
- ½ tsp salt
Measure out the double cream, and chop the butter into small cubes. Keep them nearby to where you will be heating the sugar.
Combine the sugar and water together in a pot, and put on a high heat to bring to the boil. Do not stir, or you will run the risk of the sugar crystallising.
Once the sugar is boiling, keep watch closely. After a while it will begin to change colour and caramelise (have patience at this point, it can take some time, so don’t be tempted to stir the pot!). When it has reached a colour you are happy with, pull it off the heat and immediately add the butter, cream and salt. Be careful as the pot will bubble ferociously. At this stage you can stir to combine.
Pour into a jar and leave to set. Once cold, store in the fridge.
Tag @thecorkfork on Instagram to show me your Salted Caramel creations!