Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Cage Fighter Caramel Sauce

Last week I had the distinct pleasure of speaking with a group of young Criminal Justice students at Westwood College in Anaheim, as a guest lecturer in their 1st Semester course ‘Success Skills.’ We were there to discuss goals- how powerful they can be, how illuminating-- and ultimately, how unpredictable the outcome can be, despite our plans.

I shared with them my own unlikely experience as a Women’s Studies major, Make-A-Wish Foundation Wish Coordinator and…chocolatier!

They shared with me their surprising exuberance for cooking! Among the questions about my business, college years, and time at Make-A-Wish were enthusiastic (and very specific) questions about recipes. So. This is for Nick, a dedicated student, cage fighter, and all around cutie pie, who wanted to know how to make caramel sauce for two. Lucky girl!

Cage Fighter Caramel Sauce

• 1 cup of organic sugar
• 5 Tbsp unsalted butter, room temp
• 1/2 cup heavy whipping cream
• ½ tsp real, good quality vanilla extract
• Big pinch sea salt

In a heavy-bottomed pot with high sides, place your butter and sugar. Over low heat, allow butter to melt into the sugar until you have a homogenous, sandy mixture, stirring occasionally. Once butter is melted, turn heat up to medium and prepare to stay put! Using a high heat spatula, lift darkening spots along the bottom of the pot onto top of mixture. Don’t stir the entire mixture, because you’ll lose all the heat building in your soon-to-be caramel. Look for bubbles as a clue to where the hot spots are!

After a few minutes, the mixture will once again be the same color throughout- a light/medium amber color. You’re in the home stretch, now it’s a waiting game. Bubbles should be coming up all over the mixture’s surface now. You can stir, now, and when you do, look at the mixture as it drips off your spatula. Is it still grainy and stiff? Keep heating.

When it’s a deep amber color (not black, not brown- looking for warm, orangey tones, here) and the mixture streams off your spatula smoothly and doesn’t look grainy- DON”T TOUCH! DON’T TASTE! HOT!- just look at it- it is ready for the cream. (If you have a candy thermometer, it will be at hard crack.) Stir in the cream and pinch of salt and know that this mess is going to bubble up like crazy- keep stirring. Once everything settles down, add the vanilla extract and keep on stirring through the bubbling mess again.

Your caramel sauce just needs to cool down a bit, now. Take the pot off the heat and allow to cool for a few minutes, then transfer to a canning jar and store in the fridge. It will be good for a couple of weeks, maybe more.

Super good on coffee ice cream with toasted almonds and a smidge of sea salt…

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