Sweet, sticky, buttery liquid gold, who doesn’t love caramel? It tastes amazing with absolutely anything it touches, anything! You’ve really hit the jackpot though if it accompanies any nuts or chocolate.
Probably one of my earliest experiences of caramel would be the now extinct Cadbury Taz bar (like a Freddo but better!), for just 10p of your well saved pocket money you could pick up this euphoria-inducing treat at your local newsagents or post office (along with an obligatory penny sweet mixture of course).
These days, my drug of choice is of the homemade variety (with the exception of the purple one from the Quality Street tin that is). As my taste buds have matured with age though, I’ve discovered a great fondness & appreciation of sweet & salty flavours ,including, of course, salted caramel!
Honestly, once you’ve tasted the fascinating merge of bittersweet, toasty sugar, rich butter & salt, you simply can’t go back. It induces such an instant, flavour gratification that regular caramel simply can’t compete with. Scientists have actually found that salted caramel causes a phenomenon in the brain which keeps us craving more because the palette detects new flavours with every taste (caramel addiction, it’s real folks!).
Admittedly the thought of making your own caramel can be a bit intimidating but fear not, there are no sugar thermometers in sight here, all you need is 5 ingredients & a little bit of patience. It really does beat anything that you can buy in the shops & you’re free to lick the spoon as many times as you like!
The beautiful things about this salted caramel is that you can use it in so many ways once you’ve made it once. Drizzle it on ice cream & desserts, swirl it through a brownie or a muffin batter, pot it up into pretty little jars & give them as gifts at Christmas time, or feed that addition & get down & dirty with a teaspoon. Whatever this golden sauce touches, it just makes it better (trust me). Word of warning though, stock up on jars & avoid the scales, you’ll make this more than once.
(makes one medium 1 ltr kilner jar)
- 90ml water
- 400g granulated sugar
- 180g salted butter, cubed
- 240ml double cream
- 2 tsp sea salt
- Place the water & sugar in a large, heavy bottomed pan & gently heat the mixture until the sugar has dissolved
- Continue to heat the mixture over a medium-high heat until the sugar melts & the mixture begins to turn an amber colour (don’t worry if it looks as though it’s beginning to crystalise, stick with it, it will melt)
- As soon at the sugar begins to turn amber, add in the cubed butter & use a whisk to beat until the butter & sugar combines (again, don’t worry if it looks separated at first)
- Continue to whisk occasionally whilst heating for another 3 minutes
- Slowly pour the cream into the pan, stirring continuously as you do (be careful, it will bubble vigorously)
- Continue to bubble the caramel for 2 more minutes until it has started to thicken slightly (just enough so that it coats the back off a spoon)
- Immediately take it off the heat & stir in the sea salt
- Whilst the caramel is still warm, pour into a clean sterilised jar, it will thicken more as it cools