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If the title of this recipe doesn’t make you start drooling a little then who are you?!
I love caramel. If some stranger had stood up at my wedding with an offer of a lifetime supply of caramel if I left my fiancé, I cannot promise that I would be Mrs. Bourlart right now. Granted, I’d have made sure I could share my lifetime of caramel with Phil before taking the deal. He’s logical enough that he’d see the benefit, I assure you!
Phil tried to make a caramel tart a few weeks ago but his caramel came out more solid than he wanted. He told me that the recipe sounded simple but was harder than it looked. I took the bait and started researching caramel recipes. Finally, I found one that looked easy enough and I tried my hand at it. It turned out delicious but the texture seemed a bit too thick for me. I found that if you add the sea salt too soon, the caramel will start to crystallize around it leading to too-salty chunks floating in your caramel. By the third attempt, I was no longer looking at the recipe and after a while, I realized that even that recipe was more complicated than it had to be.
That’s part of the joy of baking, for me, the implicit understanding that a new recipe requires trial and error.
The best part of baking is that permission to fail Is built right In. All bakers understand that the first few times you try a recipe it will be less than perfect. You need to test how your particular oven reacts to it. If what you’re making requires yeast to do their magic, then only experience will teach you if your recipe can succeed in the current meteorological conditions. The Ingredients you’ve purchased are unlikely to be the same as those used by the recipe’s creator.
Over time you’ll find you put your own spin on things. For example, I take a strange pleasure in cutting out all of the nonessential ingredients to have the simplest, most fool-proof recipe possible so I can actually memorise it and don’t have to look it up every time I want to make some.
However, this caramel was a special lesson for myself. I’ve made it dozens of times and I keep learning new tricks. If I wait until the sugar has completely melted before stirring it, I don’t get any clumps in the finished caramel! If I add the sea salt too early, the caramel forms crystals around it. If I microwave it, the ingredients separate. You can only learn these things through trial and error.
Bakers, both hobbyists and professionals all understand this one unspoken rule:
Failure is an essential part of the process, but it must never be the final step.
So, now I present you with an unbelievably easy, no thermometer, no timer, very little measuring required recipe for your very own Sea Salted Butter Caramel. You’re welcome.
Sea-Salted Butter Caramel
1 c White Sugar (210 g) 1 tsp Sea Salt (5 g) 1 package butter (250 g) cut into chunks 1 small bottle of cream (200 ml)
July 9th 2020 Update: I made a batch of caramel yesterday and I realised something spectacular:
You can substitute and vary your ingredients with hardly any negative effects on the caramel, only positive surprises! I didn’t have enough white sugar so I ended up replacing about half of the amount with raw cane sugar and the bottles of cream in the fridge this week are 250ml instead of the usual 200ml. It made no difference!
This caramel was darker, richer and creamier than earlier batches but equally delicious! If you substitute or adapt the recipe, please comment below with what you did and what the results were, I’m very curious to see how it works out for you.
A frying pan A wooden spoon A random spoon for scraping the sugar from the wooden spoon
Heat the sugar on medium heat until it is fully melted and turns brown. It takes a while to start melting so you can go get a coffee while you wait but as soon as the melting begins you have to stay close because it can go from melted to burnt in a matter of seconds.
Once the sugar is mostly melted, add the butter. Stir gently until the bubbling dies down as the butter and sugar reach the same temperature. Mix the sugar and butter together until you can’t tell the difference anymore.
Drizzle in the cream. Stir until it stops bubbling and you can’t see the separate ingredients.
Remove from heat and allow to cool for a few minutes.
Once it has cooled enough to where you can touch the caramel safely, sprinkle in the sea salt and stir some more.
Allow it to continue to cool but come back every few minutes to stir the caramel or all of your butter will try to float to the top.
- Once it is just a little warmer than body temperature you can put it into a jar.
- To make it even more presentable, sprinkle a few grains of sea salt on top of the cooled caramel before closing the jar.
- Store it in the fridge so that the cream and butter don’t go bad.
Never heat it in the microwave!
If you need to heat your caramel for whatever reason, put some in a pan and warm it on the stove. Otherwise the ingredients are likely to separate in the microwave.
How can you use your caramel?
- Drizzled over ice cream
- Dip apple slices in it for snacktime
- As a topping for pancakes, crepes, toast, or rice cakes
- Make some homemade pralines
- As an ingredient in other recipes (oh yes, I will be giving you some, don’t worry!)
- Melt a spoonful into your coffee, tea or hot chocolate to spoil yourself
- Put a layer of caramel on top of pudding or yogurt
- Eat it by the spoonfull when you’re too lazy to make something to eat… you can always make more!
- Bribe your spouse, children or neighbors into doing your will in exchange for some.