As I crash with my brother in Brooklyn for a bit, I’ve been penny pinching on the groceries. If there’s one thing that I can’t get used to when limiting my grocery list it’s no sweets. My sweet tooth is often unstoppable. Drastic times call for drastic measures, and when I’m feeling drastic, I’ll find a way to get something sugary on my tongue. Not until recently though, did I push the limits of how far I would go. There I sat. Watching Criminal Minds until my brain went numb from watching agent Derek Morgan chase perps down and pull them off some chain link fence as they try to escape. My sugar tooth ached for something sweet. I thought, “oh well I can just eat an apple, those are sweet.” But no. That wasn’t enough. I thought about what to make while being as cheap as possible. And then, suddenly, there it was. An idea so ingenious that just for that split second of epiphany, I rose up to join Einstein, Edison, and Hawking in the halls of mental magnificence. And that idea was: caramel.
I had never made caramel before, assuming that anything involving melting sugar was a task one could not engage in on a whim. If you remember, I made some homemade marshmallows once, which was a task with its fair share of toil and bubble. I made them in broad daylight, where if I were to be covered and subsequently crystallized in molten sugar, rescue crews would at least be able to find my body easily. But no, I chose to make my first caramel at night, where there was no comfort of having my body found if the hot, liquid sugar decided to rise against me.
I looked up some recipes and found that it was much simpler than I had thought. I didn’t even need a candy thermometer. That made me feel more at ease. I was missing one ingredient, that is, heavy cream. But found that a decent substitute is adding melted butter to milk, thus increasing the fat content (however, this does not work as a replacement if you want to whip the cream).
My fears of a rebellious caramel were not completely unwarranted. In the end I was able to eat some apple slices dipped in homemade caramel, but at a cost. At one point, I was ambushed by a rogue droplet of molten sugar that sprang forth from my whisk and landed on my right foot. I bear the scar (it’s slightly red) as a reminder of the dangers of candy making. Just as the wild stallion can never be fully tamed, this salted caramel is a beast that will always have ferocity in its heart. Or like, in its butter I guess.
This recipe is from Sally’s Baking Addiction:
- 1 cup (200g) granulated sugar
- 6 Tablespoons (90g) salted butter, cut up into 6 pieces
- 1/2 cup (120ml) heavy cream (Or 6 tablespoons milk with 2 tablespoons melted butter; 3 parts milk, 1 part melted butter)
- 1 teaspoon salt
- Heat granulated sugar in a medium saucepan over medium heat, stirring constantly with a rubber spatula.
- Sugar will form clumps and eventually melt into a thick brown, amber-colored liquid as you continue to stir. Be careful not to burn.
- Once sugar is completely melted, immediately add the butter. Be careful in this step because the caramel will bubble rapidly when the butter is added.
- Stir the butter into the caramel until it is completely melted, about 2-3 minutes.
- Very slowly, drizzle in 1/2 cup of heavy cream while whisking. Since the heavy cream is colder than the caramel, the mixture will rapidly bubble and/or splatter when added.
- Allow the mixture to boil for 1 minute. It will rise in the pan as it boils.
- Remove from heat and stir in 1 teaspoon of salt. Allow to cool down before using.
- Cover the caramel tightly and store for up to 2 weeks in the refrigerator. Warm the caramel up for a few seconds before using in a recipe.