It seems you can’t move for salted caramel at the moment. It glazes doughnuts, flavours lattes, and sells out at every ice-cream stand. It’s the sweet-tooth trend that isn’t going away because, well, why would it? It’s delicious.
So we should all be thankful for the person who decided that regular, plain old caramel, as delectable as it might be, wasn’t quite good enough. The person who saw room for improvement and thought, “You know what this needs? A pinch of salt.”
But despite its continued rise up the real-world candy land hierarchy, taking up shelf, fridge and freezer space in stores across the world, the possibilities for salted caramel are still so far from being realised. So if you just can’t get enough of the stuff, perhaps it’s about time you pitched in, learnt to make your own, and started expanding your sweet and salty horizons.
Maybe you’ll use it to put a twist on seasonal favourites, add your own touch to traditional desserts, or even throw some extra pizazz onto cakes, cookies, muffins, or whatever other baked treats you’ve mastered over lockdown.
Either way, you’ll need to start with the basics. But don’t worry, we’ve got you covered.
How to make salted caramel: recipe
This easy recipe comes courtesy of Lindsay Concher at the Life, Love and Sugar baking blog. It uses just six ingredients and should only take you about half an hour to make. Then you can drizzle it on just about any dessert, glaze it over doughnuts or brownies, or even make it the filling for your favourite sponge cake recipe.ù
Salted caramel: Ingredients
1 cup (207 g) granulated sugar
½ cup (120 ml) water
¼ cup (56 g) unsalted butter
½ cup (120 ml) heavy whipping cream
½ tbsp vanilla extract
½ to 1 tsp salt, depending on personal taste
Salted caramel: Steps to make it
The recipe is only five steps. Just be sure to use a medium or large sized saucepan. You’ll need a lot of room to avoid the pan overflowing as the caramel will bubble up quite a bit. Once it’s done, you’ll be able to store it in the refrigerator for up to two weeks.
Combine the granulated sugar and water in your saucepan. Cook over a medium-low heat for about three to five minutes until the sugar has completely dissolved. Take off the heat and melt in the butter.
Bring the mixture to boil while whisking over a medium heat. Once it starts boiling, stop whisking to avoid any crystallisation. Let the mixture boil for about 10 to 15 minutes, until it turns a deep golden copper colour. Keep an eye on it but resist the temptation to stir it. What you can do is tip the pan from side to side occasionally to ensure it cooks evenly.
Once the mixture has turned a golden copper colour, remove the pan from the heat and immediately pour in the heavy whipping cream in a slow but steady stream while whisking. Be careful because the caramel will bubble up quite a bit at this stage. Whisk until the cream has completely combined with the caramel.
Add the vanilla extract and the salt. (You will need to use your best judgement with the salt here as the caramel will still be too hot to taste). Whisk to combine.
Allow the salted caramel sauce to cool. Don’t worry if it looks quite thin as it will thicken as it cools.
Salted caramel: recipe variations
Sous vide salted caramel sauce
Of course, the challenge with making caramel is knowing when to quit. You need to cook it for just the right amount of time and a few seconds too many will see it burn. One way to get around this is to use a sous vide if you have one. The sous vide technique involves vacuum sealing food (in this case, your caramel) in a food-grade plastic bag before cooking it in an immersion circulator (the sous vide).
It’s not hard to adapt the recipe for this particular cooking method and give yourself a window of 1–4 hours of cooking time. Just click here for our easy step-by-step recipe for sous vide salted caramel sauce.
Salted rum caramel sauce
OK, so you’ve done salted caramel now. Many times. You’re looking to give it that extra edge. Well if you happen to also like your desserts a little boozy, then try adding a splash of rum.
It’s simple. Just follow the salted caramel sauce recipe above but stir in about a tablespoon of rum along with the cream immediately after taking the caramel off the heat. The results are to die for and taste great drizzled over ice cream or even just apple slices.