Sunday, January 24, 2010

Caramel Sauce

As promised in my Caramel Syrup post, I finally tackled caramel sauce for my caramel macchiatos. I bought heavy cream for Potage Parmentier and Butter Pecan Ice Cream, and I had almost the perfect amount leftover for caramel sauce, so it seemed like the perfect time to make it.

The start of this recipe is exactly the same as the Caramel Syrup recipe, but I made a few changes to The Joy of Cooking recipe this time around. If you use 1/4 c. of water to dissolve the sugar, the sugar-water mixture starts to come to a boil (at least on my stove set on medium-high) before the sugar is fully dissolved and you constantly have to adjust the heat to avoid boiling the mixture before the syrup is clear. I found that 3/4 c. of the water is the perfect amount that the sugar dissolves completely and will boil very quickly after increasing the heat to high. Although it may thin the sauce out a bit, I actually prefer that for use in caramel macchiatos. I also think that any additional cooking time from the extra water reduces the chance for ruining the sauce since the burning of the sugar that creates caramel is more gradual that it would be with less water or no water at all; a lot of the extra water is probably boiled off anyway. I also increased the amount of vanilla extract because I find that most sweet recipes with vanilla can benefit from a little more. I've never regretted increasing the amount of vanilla extract in a recipe.

Caramel Sauce
adapted from The Joy of Cooking

makes about 1.5 cups

3/4 c. water
1 c. sugar
1/2 c. (1 stick) unsalted butter, cut into pieces

1/2 c. heavy cream
2 t. vanilla
Pinch of salt

1. Combine sugar and 1/4 c. water in a small heavy saucepan. Set over medium high heat and stir gently until the sugar is completely dissolved and the syrup is clear. Avoid letting the syrup boil until the sugar is completely dissolved. Increase the heat to high, cover the saucepan, and boil the syrup for 2 minutes.

2. Uncover and continue to boil the syrup until it begins to darken around the edges. Gently stir until the syrup turns deep amber.

3. Remove from heat and add butter. Gently stir until butter is encorporated. Stir in heavy cream. If the sauce becomes lumpy, set over low heat and stir until smooth.

4. Remove from heat and stir in vanilla and salt. Serve warm or at room temperature. Cover and refrigerate up to 1 month. Reheat in a double boiler or in a saucepan over very low heat, adding a bit of water if too thick.

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