This is one of those recipes that gets me into trouble. Like, SERIOUS trouble. Like, standing in front of the open fridge with a spoon and the jar in the middle of the night trouble. Oh, how I love this caramel sauce...
I'm not really a chocolate person. I know- what's wrong with me? I don't hate it, don't get me wrong. It's just that I much prefer the slightly smoky and vanilla flavors of a good piece of caramel. Those little plastic-wrapped caramels we got as kids in our Halloween pumpkins were always the first to go from mine. Now as an adult, I appreciate the balance and depth that a pinch of salt adds to my favorite candy. I am of the opinion that whoever it was who decided it would be a good idea to sprinkle a bit of sea salt into a caramel should be named a saint. I am officially an addict.
So it's no wonder that when I spotted a jar full of salted caramel sauce in Trader Joe's, I NEEDED to buy it. And another jar, and another... A girl could go broke at the rate I was going. I knew the downward spiral wouldn't stop until I learned to make it myself. Then, at least, I could make it less expensively. As an added bonus I could control the amount of salt and make it to suit my taste perfectly.
I'm amazed this jar has lasted as long as it has. It's great on a scoop (or two) of vanilla ice cream. Of course, you can always just spoon it right from the jar in front of the fridge. Don't say I didn't warn you.
Salted Caramel Sauce
From Erin's Food Files
1 cup water
2 cups sugar
1 cup heavy cream
2 tbs softened butter
1 tsp fine sea salt (such as grey salt or fleur de sel)
Place the water in a medium saucepan. Without stirring, carefully pour in the sugar. If it sloshes up the sides, it will make big crystals, which you don't want. Cover and bring to a boil. Once the mixture reaches a boil, uncover the pot and continue cooking over high heat until the mixture reaches 300 degrees (about 15 minutes). Ideally, you want to measure the temperature with a candy thermometer. Mine broke years ago and I haven't replaced it, so I used my instant read thermometer, checking every minute of so. It worked, though I did scorch a bit of arm hair over the super-high heat of the syrup. At 300 degrees, the syrup will have begun to color a bit. At this point, reduce the heat to medium and continue to cook until the syrup reaches 350 degrees and a nice caramel color (about 5 additional minutes).
In the meantime, in a small saucepan, bring the cream up to a simmer. Remove the caramel from the heat and pour in 1/4 of the cream. It will bubble like crazy, so stand back. Once the bubbling dies down, add the rest of the cream then whisk to incorporate. Stir in the butter and salt and let cool.
Store it in a jar in the refrigerator. It should last a month (if you can resist eating it all at once).