Homemade Caramel

 
   I knew from the beginning this recipe was going to be difficult and could end in disaster! I was feeling brave and patient at the same time so I agreed to take the plunge and let Little Chef A make Homemade Caramel from My Baking Addiction.
 
   She gathered the ingredients. We read the directions over and over again so we knew what came next. I thought this was a good idea. I thought this would prevent the disaster from happening. Sadly, I was wrong disaster was about to occur. Little Chef A measured out the sugar and water.
 
  Before Little Chef A measured out the corn syrup I explained if she sprayed the tablespoon with nonstick spray it would come out easier.  She sprayed a little too much it pooled in the bottom of the tablespoon. I made sure she dumped it out before measuring out the cornstarch. It worked! She was so surprised it came out easily. She stirred the mixture to make sure it was all combined. I reminded her the recipe said to stir very gently. She tried very hard not to splash up the sides of the saucepan.
 
   I showed her how to place the digital thermometer in the saucepan being careful the tip does not touch the bottom of the pan. We very soon realized this thermometer does not go as high as we needed. I quickly tried to find the candy thermometer (I didn’t use it in the first place because I thought the digital one would be easier for Little Chef A to read). The thermometer was not up to 340 degrees when the mixture started to change color. At that point I started to panic and didn’t know what to do! It was only dark in the middle, not all over, what to do! Take it off? Leave it on? She took it off the heat and we both immediately smelt it…burnt sugar!
  I knew we needed to get it out of the pan as quickly as possible to avoid it being permanently stuck! We ended up pouring it into a paper cup and quickly submerging the pan in water.

   We had to start all over and try it again. Little Chef A wanted to do it right this time! We got out a smaller pan thinking that the surface area would be smaller, therefore the liquid would be deeper. This time we were going to pay more attention. Not sure how, because we both didn’t take our eyes off the sugar mixture the first time.

   This time we knew what we were looking for. There are benefits to totally ruining it the first time! This new saucepan has a red circle in the middle of the pan. About every minute Little Che
f A would say, “It’s changing color!” She didn’t want to make the same mistake! I repeatedly said, “Its the red circle on the bottom of the pan its not changing color yet.” She was loosing her patience because we turned the heat down and it was taking a lot longer to change color. Finally it did! She took it off the heat as fast as she could.
   Little Chef A poured in the warmed cream and stirred and stirred and stirred.
   Luckily the recipe said it may clump up a bit. Ours did for sure. Little Chef A put the saucepan back on the heat to dissolve all the clumps. It was taking longer then she wanted, she was starting to loose her focus and wanted to be done cooking.
 
   After the clumps were dissolved the butter and salt were added.
   She stirred some more to combine. This recipe has a lot of stirring!
   After a few more minutes the vanilla was measured out and added then stirred again. I love this picture because I am constantly telling my Little Chefs to slowly pour which they don’t really do and this is the result! Vanilla overflowing the teaspoon all over the counter and too much in the little bowl!
   We ALL wanted to taste it! Wow! An amazing buttery taste! Little Chef A could not believe all that stirring lead to this wonderful caramel sauce. We just had to try it out in a recipe. Little Chef D put some in her Nutella Caramel Hazelnut Brownies. It is wonderful on ice cream as well! My only complaint is this time it wasn’t overcooked and burnt, it was a bit underdone. The sugar wasn’t completely dissolved, it has a grainy taste. But next time it will be even better!

Homemade Caramel Sauce

Yield: 1 cup

Ingredients:

1 cup sugar
1 tablespoon corn syrup
1/4 liquid cup water
1/2 liquid cup heavy cream, heated until warm
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
½ teaspoon fine grain sea salt
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

Directions:

1. In a heavy saucepan (at least 5 cup capacity), stir together the sugar, syrup, and water until the sugar is completely moistened. Place your candy thermometer into the pot taking care that it is tip in immersed into the sugar mixture.
2. Heat, stirring constantly, until the sugar dissolves and the syrup is bubbling. Stop stirring completely and allow it to boil undisturbed until it turns a deep amber (like the color of Bass Ale) (see notes below). Immediately remove it f
rom the heat and slowly and carefully pour the hot cream into the caramel. It will bubble up furiously.
3. Use a high-temperature heat-resistant rubber spatula or wooden spoon to stir the mixture until smooth, scraping up the thicker part that settles on the bottom. If any lumps develop, return the pan to the heat and stir until they dissolve. Stir in the butter and salt. The mixture will be streaky but become uniform after cooling slightly and stirring.
Allow the sauce to cool for 3 minutes. Gently stir in the vanilla extract.

Notes:

- Keep at room temperature for up to 3 days; refrigerated, about 3 weeks. To reheat, simply place in a microwave safe container and heat for about 45-60 seconds. Stir well.
- I have 3 thermometers and they all register different temperatures. In my opinion, it’s best to rely on the color of the caramel as opposed to the temperature. You want to look for a dark dark amber color. However, dark amber goes to burnt in a matter of seconds. If using a thermometer, start paying close attention at about 340 degrees. Once the color deepens, pull the mixture from the heat.
Tempting Twist:
Use fresh vanilla bean instead of vanilla extract. Simply scrape the seeds from inside ½ vanilla bean. Place the seeds and pod into the cream while it’s warming. Remove pod from the cream before adding to the hot sugar mixture.

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