My son, Cameron, is graduating from Pre K on Friday, it’s my birthday on Thursday, and summer is just around the corner, so it’s a celebratory time. I love summer. I don’t care how hot and humid it gets. I also love my birthday, and I don’t care how old I get (although I might feel differently when I turn 90). I’m usually the first to wish myself a happy birthday on Facebook. This gets the wheels going, you know, and then all day the birthday accolades come rolling in. I’m feeling a little sad, however, with Cam graduating. It’s hard to watch your babies get older. I can still hold him right now, and play “dinosaur hunters” with him, and let him sleep in our bed when he’s scared of the dark, but the day will come when I won’t be doing any of those things. He won’t need that anymore, and that’s heart breaking. Anyway, since Cameron and I both love salted caramel, I decided to make a batch of salted caramel sauce for our special week. I’m going to use this sauce for cupcakes (coming soon), but in the mean time, I thought I’d show you how to make salted caramel sauce from scratch.
Thanks to Sherry Yard and her book The Secrets Of Baking and Sarah R. Labensky, Priscilla A. Martel, Eddy Van Damme and their baking text book On Baking, I’ve learned a couple good tips when making caramel:
- The saucepan, whisk, and candy thermometer should be completely clean. Any particle could cause a crystallization build-up.
- The heavy cream should be at room temperature.
- Use a candy thermometer. Caramel can go from sweet to bitter very quickly. Be sure to take the caramel off of the heat when it reaches 325 degrees F.
- Have a bowl of ice water at the ready to treat any caramel burns.
The tools needed for making caramel are a candy thermometer, pastry brush and bowl of cold water (to brush down the sides of the saucepan), and a whisk.
To begin, place sugar and water in a saucepan over high heat. Put a lid on it for four minutes. This helps bring the sugar mixture to a boil quicker, while also producing steam to wash away any sugar crystals that are building up on the sides.
After 4 minutes, take the lid off and brush the sides of the saucepan with the water. Do this throughout the caramel-making process. Also, do not stir the caramel, just swirl the pan from the handle.
Once the sugar mixture starts to boil, pour in the lemon juice. The juice helps to interfere with the formation of crystallization.
Now it is time to watch the thermometer closely. At 320 degrees F., the water has completely evaporated, and the sugar starts to brown and caramelize. Remove the caramel from the heat at 325 degrees F.
After it’s reached the right temperature, let the caramel sit for 1 minute.
Then, whisk in the cream. It will bubble up quickly, so be careful!
Finally, whisk in the butter and sea salt.
It will be ready to use once it is cooled completely at room temperature. Liquid gold! There are so many uses for salted caramel sauce. I’m going to be using this one on cupcakes. Mila, from the delicious blog Girl and the Kitchen just made no-churn salted caramel ice cream that you should check out. Or you could just eat caramel sauce by the spoonful if you’re so inclined. I won’t judge.
- 2 cups (398 g) Sugar
- 1/4 cup Water
- 1 tsp. Lemon Juice
- 1 cup Heavy Cream, at room temperature
- 3 TBS. (45 g) Unsalted Butter, softened
- 1 TBS Sea Salt
- Combine the sugar and water in a medium-sized saucepan. Stir to moisten the sugar completely. Place the saucepan over high heat and cover with a lid for 4 minutes. After 4 minutes are up, remove the lid, brush down the sides of the pan with water to remove any sugar granules.
- When the sugar comes to a boil, add the lemon juice. Do not stir the sugar, as this may cause lumping. Use a candy thermometer to monitor the temperature. When it reaches 320 degrees F. lower the heat. Continue boiling until the sugar caramelizes, turning a dark golden brown (325 degrees F.).
- Remove the saucepan from the heat. Let rest for 1 minute, and then slowly pour in the cream. Be extremely careful, as the hot caramel will bubble up. Whisk in the cream to blend.
- Add the pieces of butter, and sea salt. Stir until the butter melts completely. If necessary, return the sauce to the stove to reheat enough to melt the butter.
- Cool completely at room temperature.
- This sauce may be refrigerated for several weeks. Stir before using.
- Candy thermometer
- Pastry brush
- Mason jar (or other covered container)