Thursday, October 18, 2012

Shortcut Caramel Sauce

Whenever I make caramel, whether its sea salt caramels, pumpkin caramels, or caramel sauce, I have to use a candy thermometer. One day I hope to gain that sixth sense that warns you when the caramel is about to burn. As of yet I do not have. The couple of times I've tried to do caramel without a thermometer, I burnt it.

I wanted to make apple cider cupcakes with a caramel filling and spiced rum frosting. I also wanted to use homemade caramel sauce, but I didn't want to get my candy thermometer out. As much as I love caramel, I mind it a little nerve-wracking to watch the degrees go up one by one on the thermometer, positive the moment I look away, it will burn. I know you can make caramel with condensed milk in the microwave, but I'm not a huge fan of condensed milk. I'm not totally sure why. But I found another short-cut caramel recipe you can make in the microwave that doesn't call for condensed milk! I still think caramel made on the stove top tastes better, but this is pretty damn good and damn easy.

1 cup sugar
2 tablespoons corn syrup
2 tablespoons water
1/8 teaspoon lemon juice
1/2 cup heavy cream, warmed
1 tablespoon unsalted butter, softened
1/2 teaspoon vanilla

In a medium glass bowl, mix the sugar, corn syrup, and lemon juice together. Microwave the caramel until it just barely has an amber color, 5-8 minutes. If you microwave it for too long, you can burn the sugar. Allow the caramel to sit for about 5 minutes. As it does, you'll see the caramel continue to darken. I microwaved mine for 5 minutes, waited 5 minutes, and got this result:

Next time I may try to microwave it for longer to see if I can get a more intense color and flavor. Keep in mind that all microwaves cook differently.

While waiting for the caramel to darken, heat the whipping cream and vanilla extract in a small sauce pan. You don't need to bring it to a boil, just warm it so it doesn't cause the caramel to seize up.

Add the cream to the caramel a few tablespoons at a time. Beware that the sauce will bubble as you do this. Stir.

Once the cream is incorporated, stir in the butter until its melted and well combined. Allow to cool, pour into jar, and store in the fridge.

Like I said, so easy.



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