I first discovered salted caramels a few years ago while watching the Barefoot Contessa on the Food Network. It was love at first sight. The salted caramels, that is. Not Ina Garten, even though she rocks the Kazbah. I was immediately intrigued when she said “salted caramels.” I had never heard of this phenomenon. But I just knew it was going to be a wonderful thing. Savory and sweet wrapped up into one little morsel of goodness. Yum. It couldn’t get any better than that. (Well, actually it can because I discovered maple bacon caramels a few years later.) I searched for the recipe, bookmarked it, and waited for the perfect time to make these little treats. I guess I didn’t really need an excuse, but I was sort of stalling because I was intimidated by the whole candy-making process. I read numerous reviews from those who attempted the recipe, and was terrified that the caramels were going to be either too soft or too hard. But they were perfect when I finally had the opportunity to make them. And when I popped one of those salty, buttery, creamy caramels in my mouth, I came to the realization that… life is good.
So now I have an obsession with anything salted caramels… especially salted caramel sauce. Ooooooh-weeeeeee, that stuff is good! This stuff will make anything taste better. Drizzle it over your favorite desserts and/or fruits, and you got yourself a flavor party in your mouth.
Fleur de Sel Caramel Sauce (adapted from Cork and Rind)
1/4 cup water
1/2 cup white sugar
1/2 cup heavy cream
4 tablespoons unsalted butter
3/4 teaspoon fleur de sel (reduce to 1/2 teaspoon if it’s too salty for your liking)
In a DEEP saucepan, combine water and sugar over medium-high heat. I know it’s tempting, but do not stir the sugar-water mixture. Just swirl the pan to mix. Continue to boil for about 10 minutes until the caramel is a warm amber brown color (observe color changing process below). Do not walk away while the sugar is boiling. Once the color starts to change, it doesn’t take long from deep amber to a not-so-pleasant burnt sugar taste.
In the meantime, bring the cream, butter, and 1/2 teaspoon fleur de sel to a simmer in a small pan over medium heat. Remove from the heat, set aside and keep warm.
When the caramelized sugar is the right color, slowly add the cream mixture to the caramel – it will boil up violently (this is why a deep saucepan is necessary). Once the bubbles subside, whisk until the cream has been incorporated into the sugar mixture.
Use right away, or allow to cool to room temperature and pour into a container for storage. Caramel sauce can be refrigerated for a couple of weeks. Before using, either warm the sauce or allow it to come to room temperature.
Calories per tablespoon: 100 (approximate)