Salted Caramel Sauce

The Perfect Holiday Present!

It’s that time of year again. Holiday parties, get-togethers, all the while frantically trying to find the perfect gifts.  Our first Holiday party was this past weekend and besides ourselves, we needed to bring a drink, an appetizer and an exchange gift with the theme Shop Local.

I wanted something a little more personal with the present.  While out shopping I found the cutest little ceramic dish at my local hardware store.  

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Well ok, the dish is supposed to be for pancakes, but all I could think of was my favorite holiday dish, Sticky Pudding, which had me thinking everything sticky. This in turn had me wanting some caramels and caramel sauce.

I love caramels. If you didn’t know that, you do now. I will do just about anything for a really good caramel. Yummy buttery vanilla flavored treats. I remember making them with my mom and wrapping them up with waxed paper.

Growing up allergic to chocolate I quickly became a caramel snob, nothing compared to homemade. If they aren’t homemade, then Knudsen’s Caramels out of Red Wing, Minnesota are the bomb! The link’s right there if you want to order any. You’re Welcome! 😉

With my mind going full caramel mode, I decided to try making salted caramel sauce for that cute little dish. I gathered the ingredients and since the recipe I was using said everything can go fast in the end, I prepped it all.

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I will openly admit to you, that my first attempt was a complete and utter fail.  Have you ever had that happen?  You follow the recipe exactly the way that it is stated and you have a complete and utter fail.  I mean, seriously, the sugar crystallized in the bottom of my pan and I couldn’t get it out until I dissolved it in some hot water!

After that fail, I scanned recipes on Pinterest.  Each had different methods.  Granulated Sugar. Brown Sugar. Honey.  Heat and Simmer. Simmer and Heat. 

UGH!  Attempt #2 was kind of a fail.  My caramel sauce was too light in color and I could barely taste the salt.  Add a little salt.  Good to go, with the exception of the light cream color.

After this I was utterly frustrated. Seriously.  People list an ingredient and then don’t tell you to add it in the directions.  Lots of vague references.  “Don’t worry, you don’t even need a candy thermometer.”  UGH! Not everyone is a trained or full-time chef. For some of us, we need exacting instructions, at least the first time. I’m glad they don’t have that problem, but I do. I love to cook, I don’t mind trying to make things, but damn it, give me full directions with back-up details.

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I Do Not Give Up!

I was not going to let two fails defeat me. Well, attempt #3 was perfect.  A beautiful amber color.  Here is what I decided.  Attempt #2 was perfect in flavor, but lacked the beautiful amber color associated with caramel sauce. I kept that as my Salted Caramel version.  Attempt #3 I didn’t add the salt and made it simply a Caramel Sauce.  Both were poured into jars, labeled, wrapped and went with the beautiful dish. It was a hit at the party.

What I love about gifts like this is that it is so personal.  The person receiving the gift knows that you took the time to make the gift yourself.  Time out of your busy schedule making something.  Think of the people in your life where you want to give them a little something. 

Make a batch or two of the caramel sauce, salted or not. Pour into small ball jars and add a recipe card tied on with a festive ribbon.  Or add an idea card giving them ideas on how to use the caramel sauce.  Either way you will have a wonderful gift made by you.

Then make another batch for yourself to enjoy!

Salted Caramel Sauce

Ingredients

    • 1 cup granulated sugar
    • 2 Tablespoon water
    • 4 Tablespoons unsalted butter
    • 1/2 cup heavy cream
    • 3/4 – 1 teaspoon flaky sea salt
    • 1/2 teaspoon of vanilla

 Instructions

    1. In a medium saucepan over medium-high heat whisk together sugar and water and bring to a boil. Cook until sugar has dissolved, about 1-2 minutes.
    2. Reduce heat to a simmer. Add in butter and whisk until combined. Simmer until the mixture turns a deep amber color, about 5-12 minutes.  If you have a candy thermometer handy, the mixture will start to turn color around 350 degrees. It will turn quickly, start whisking once this happens to get a uniform color throughout.
    3. Remove from heat once you have the color you wish and carefully whisk in the cream. Be careful as it will bubble up when you add it! Whisk until well combined. Whisk in salt and vanilla.
    4. Pour caramel into a heat-proof jar. Allow it to cool a few minutes before using. Once cooled, cover tightly and store in the refrigerator.
    5. Note that the caramel sauce will thicken as it cools and once it has been refrigerated, you will need to warm again before using to thin it enough to pour.

Don’t want a salted caramel version? Simply leave off the salt. 😊

Now go and make some for the mail person, your favorite teacher, your swim instructor, your son. Besides the gift for the party, I gave away the rest of the Salted Caramel version and as you see in the photo, used my little jar for drizzling on top of some sliced apples and a mug of got chocolate. Note to self…. Joshua enjoys caramel sauce too!

If you make my salted caramel sauce, let me know how it turns out! What did you use it on?  Tag me on your IG photos @beforeandaftermyemptynest !

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