The below recipe is from a Salted Caramel class I took last year at The Meadow. David Briggs from Xocolatl de David taught the class and posted the recipe on chocolatenews.org. The link to that is here.
My notes from the class & from my first attempt are below. I burnt the first batch & didn't have a good thermometer at the time. I'm going to try this again next week in hopes that I can make some jars for small holiday gifts.
A couple of people asked if I'd re-post the recipe here. If anyone makes this caramel, please post back on how yours turned out. Also I wanted to mention, the class is reasonably priced and is really fun and informative. Even though this recipe has been posted on chocolatenews.org for a couple of years, it really doesn't replace the experience of seeing him make this first hand and being able to ask questions & try different outcomes.
Best Salted Caramel Sauce
Fist step - make a batch of invert sugar to prevent the sugar in the caramel from crystallizing.
3 C Sugar
1.5 C Water
1/4 tsp Citric acid or juice of 1/2 a lemon
Put ingredients in a non-reactive pot and bring to boil. Lower heat & simmer for 30 min. Cool & store in fridge.
2 C Sugar
1 oz Invert Sugar
1.25 C Cream, warm
1 oz Butter
Fleur de sel
Put invert sugar and sugar in a wide high sided non reactive pot on high heat. Every minute or so slowly mix in granulated sugar with some that is liquefied. Eventually you will have a paste.
Warm Cream separately.
Continue to cook sugar until it begins to caramelize. Using a candy thermometer monitor the temperature of the cooking sugar. The classic caramel stage is around 330-350 degrees F. You can cook it longer for a less sweet more bitter sauce. Do not go above 390 F.
When your desired temperature is reached, turn off the heat and slowly and very carefully add the warmed cream in small increments. When the cream is fully incorporated, turn the heat on high and heat the caramel to 230 F. This will go quite quickly. Turn off heat and add the butter. Stir until the butter has completely melted. Add your desired amount of Fleur de sel or other sea salt. Let cool.
It will store in the refrigerator for up to 4 months.
Briggs likes things more savory than sweet, so he takes his caramel to 390° instead of the usual 330 – 350. 390° is smoking hot and dark.
The biggest HUGE tip of the night for me was the addition of inverted sugar, which he makes himself. You can however buy "invert sugar" at a cake decorating store.
A tablespoon or two (1 oz for the above recipe) of the invert sugar, plus the sugar in the pan, is all you need to get a perfect non-crystallizing caramel every single time. No need to remove crystals from the side of the pan with a brush dipped in water, etc. Plus, he just cranked the heat to high and made the caramel in no time flat, less than 5 minutes. No slow & steady method, he just jacked the heat and went on with it. It never crystallized.
When the sugar started to melt into the inverted sugar, he used a silicon spatula, lying it flat on the bottom, and began making a paste in the corner of the pan where the invert sugar was mixing with the regular sugar, and kept stirring, incorporating more sugar each time. After it was all melted, he only stirred once in a while.
Butter: he used Cremerie Classique butter out of Clackamas. Only domestic butter he’s found that he feels is closest to European butter.
Salt: Looked like he used about 1 Tbs of salt, but it all depended on the salt. He eyeballs it, and in the 2 batches of caramel he made, I’d say it was between 1 and 1.5 Tbs of very high end salt. He uses a very expensive salt in his caramel but we tried different salts in the caramel sauce, one smoked & one from Hawaiian Lava, both were outstanding.
Q: Can I can this stuff?
A: He said have very hot dry sterile jars, ladle the hot caramel in, lid it like normal, and you’re done. No need to process. He said it’s very shelf stable.
Q: If it’s done & I didn’t add enough salt, can I go back in & add more?
A: Yes but heat the finished caramel VERY slowly and only up to 190°.
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