Salted caramel was a trend. It came out of nowhere and then left an everlasting mark. And now it will never go out of fashion. Why would it, when it is so incredibly tasty? Though caramel au beurre salé first sprung up in Brittany, home to some of the world’s finest butters, Nigella reckons it arrived from America, rather than the Channel. To demystify this salted wonder, we thought it would be a good idea to give you some quick tips and a step by step guide on making the perfect caramel.
Sugar is the backbone of caramel. The quickest recipes usually just dissolve the sugar in fat (generally butter and cream) and stir until it darkens and thickens. Pastry chef and food writer David Lebovitz suggests caramelising the sugar before adding other ingredients. This gives a more complex caramel flavour.
Butter is absolutely non-negotiable in a caramel sauce. It is essential to have the right amount of butter to give the sauce its richness.Some recipes calls for creme fraiche in the place of butter, but somehow I prefer the butter. Cream is a very good alternative. It maintains the richness of the sauce and this is what makes Nigella’s sauce so deliciously milky and dangerously easy on the palate.
Salt is not the only option for a more savoury flavour in your sauce. Food 52 uses white miso and this idea has generally received positive responses.
A lot of people experiment in this area and you are free to try out as well. One particular recipe melts in milk chocolate and trust me it’s actually pretty good. Feel free to add something interesting – maybe rosemary or chilli?And let me know about it.
Now, for the perfect caramel sauce (Makes 1 large jug)
200g white sugar
100g butter, cubed
100ml creme fraiche (or double cream)
1 tsp flaked sea salt
In a wide, heavy-bottomed pan add sugar and pour over the water
Wet all the sugar in the process. Swirl the pan, if necessary
Set over a medium heat and keep an eye on it as the sugar melts and begins to brown. Make sure you have the other ingredients, measured out, within reach.
Once it turns a deep, but not dark, amber colour (about seven minutes), take it off the heat and whisk in the butter until it is completely melted, then stir in the creme fraiche (or cream) and ½ tsp salt (and other flavourings, if using).
Once you have a smooth sauce, scoop a little up on a teaspoon, allow to cool, and taste for seasoning; add more salt if you like.
Use immediately, or store in a sealed container in the fridge.
You can reheat as necessary, adding a little milk if it is too thick.