Saturday, August 7, 2010

Salted Caramel Bourbon Sauce

Caramel is one of those things that seems like it would be hard to make. But it's not! All it takes is some patience and knowing when to do which step. And when you get it right, it's ohhh so good.

Start out with a heavy saucepan that you think is too large. There will be a hot sugar mixture in here, and later we're going to add cream. The sugar is going to bubble up. You do not want it to bubble over. Cleaning hardened caramel off of your stove is not how you want to spend your evening.

Oh, and use a wooden spoon or a silicone spatula that's rated for high heats. Melted plastic doesn't taste very good, and I hear it's not good for your overall health.

You'll also want to have your ingredients ready and on standby. Caramel is a little patient, but it won't wait long enough for you to hunt through your freezer for that stick of butter you're sure you had.

Combine sugar, water, and corn syrup in your saucepan. Do not stir. Simply place on the stove over medium heat and walk away.

Once in a while, give your saucepan a swirl to mix everything together. But again, do not stir.

Stirring causes sugar crystals to form and will make your velvety caramel sauce gritty.
Here it is right after coming to a boil.
After 5 minutes.
At 10 minutes. It will smell deep and caramel-y.
After 10 minutes, take the sauce off the heat and add your cream. Remember when I said it bubbles up? Yup. Don't stand too close.

NOW you can stir. Stir, stir, stir. You'll think it won't come together, but it will. Be sure to stir deep in the corners.

Once everything is combined, throw in some butter (carefully!). Stir until the butter's melted.
Now comes the fun part (some of you are thinking, "Oh lord, she's got the Jack Daniel's out again...")

Be sure to take the pot off the heat, especially if you have a gas grill. I'm just going to guess that you like having eyebrows. I'm not saying it's going to burst into flames...but you never know. Flames + alcohol = dangerous combination.
Throw in some sea salt. I like to use this gray salt; the big granules are perfect for this kind of thing. They don't dissolve all the way so once in a while you'll get a fleck of salt mixed in with the sweet caramel.
The very last ingredient is a dash of cayenne pepper. You can add a few dashes if you're feeling brave.
Let your sauce cool. I was impatient and didn't wait very long after it was finished. That's why it looks a little thin here. It will thicken up the longer you leave it. But the corn syrup will keep it from turning into a brick.

At any rate, pour your caramel sauce over something tasty.
Like maybe some grilled peaches and pound cake? And top it off with vanilla ice cream and some toasted nuts? Yeah, I'd say your night's pretty much complete.

Or you could just eat it straight from whatever you're storing it in. It can be our little secret.

Recipe: Salted Caramel Bourbon Sauce
1 c. sugar
1/2 c. water
2 tbsp. light Karo syrup

3/4 c. heavy cream
4 tbsp. butter
1/4 c. bourbon whiskey
1 tsp. sea salt
dash of cayenne pepper

Combine sugar, water, and Karo syrup in a heavy pan. Heat over medium heat and allow to boil for 10 minutes.

Remove from heat and stir in heavy cream.

Return to heat. Add butter and stir until melted.

Add bourbon, sea salt, and cayenne pepper.

Allow sauce to cool before using.

Here's what it looks like the next day. Mmmm.

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