I am a caramel fan, for sure! And I hate the artificial flavoring that deceive your nostrils and disappoint your taste buds. I have always loved the most authentic version of any food and the way to get that is to make it yourself. This is one of the main reasons, why I learnt to bake and cook my own food. From the most simplest to the most complex.
I have a few caramel recipes I use, depending on the requirement. If your palate is like mine (it is very picky), you will understand the need to have different types of caramels in your food.
I love a pouring caramel on ice cream and stuff, so for that I whip up a simple caramel sauce, by just melting dark brown sugar, cream and butter in a saucepan. I would sometimes add a bit of liquor (rum, brandy or bourbon) This is a quick easy recipe and goes with most desserts. But the main thing this lacks is the distinct deep almost bitter burnt taste, which is what I love. This is why I make the real thing once in a while, when the cravings hit!
This caramel can be pre-made and stored for several days, which is very convenient. I used to make this caramel by the gallon, back in the days when I worked as a pastry chef in a small yet sort-after bakery-cafe.
One main issue with caramelizing sugar is the formation of sugar crystals. I used liquid glucose in professional kitchens, but at home, I just go with some lemon juice. But this is optional, all you have to do is, let the sugar and water do its work. If you see sugar catching up the sides of the saucepan, just brush it off with a pastry brush dipped in water.
This recipe can be adjusted to achieve different consistencies.
- 1 cup cream – caramel sauce good for dipping and pouring
- 3/4 cup cream – thicker good for spreading
- 1/2 cup cream – very thick, sets with time, good for tart filling
Don’t stop there, play with the ratios of cream and butter and you would find a perfect caramel to your liking. Saying that, I have made this without butter and it is still great and rich enough.
So here is the recipe. Go play!
- 1 cup castor sugar
- 1/3 cup water
- 3/4 cup cream (adjust cream according to your liking, the lesser the cream, the thicker the caramel)
- 3 tbsp of butter (optional)
- few drops of lemon juice/ tsp of liquid glucose/ maple syrup
- pinch of sea salt (or more for salted caramel)
- flavor (vanilla/bourbon etc.) optional
- Place sugar and water in a heavy saucepan. Add the lemon juice/liquid glucose or maple syrup
- Bring to a boil
- Stir until most of the sugar dissolves
- Brush the sides of the pan with some water to get the clinging sugar particles out
- Let this boil on medium-high heat until it starts to color
- Once the color starts to show up, gently swirl the sugar syrup to prevent burning
- Reduce heat if it is caramelizing too fast
- Keep an eye and do not let the caramel go too far
- Once it reaches the desired amber color, reduce heat and add cream slowly string with a wooden spoon
- It might spit, so be careful and go slow at first and when the sauce settles, add the rest of the cream in one go
- Then add the butter if you are adding
- Keep string and let this simmer for a couple of minutes
- Take off the heat and add salt and any other flavoring, if you desire
- Always taste before adding more salt
- The sauce is thinner when hot and will get thicker as it cools
- Pour in to a glass jar and store away or use as desired