Salted caramel anything—sauce, ice cream, candy—has been the rage for a while, and I doubt it’s going to melt away. So I was screaming, “Eureka!” this morning, when I suddenly solved a problem with caramel that’s been vexing me for years.
I was making a salted caramel sauce, which means you begin by caramelizing the sugar. There are two ways to do it, one with water, and one without, known in culinary lingo as a wet or dry caramel. Plenty of colleagues prefer the wet method, but it takes longer, and I’m a tad impatient. I prefer a dry caramel because it’s fast, and it only requires sugar and a super-dry pan.
Whether you’ve made a wet or dry caramel, the real action begins when you add the cream, because it immediately bubbles up and the sugar hardens into a stiff mess. To get to a smooth, happy sauce, you have to continue cooking the mixture, stirring all the while, until the caramel dissolves.
Teasingly, the caramel can take its sweet time dissolving. I don’t know why, but I grabbed the pan lid and covered the pot. The sauce bubbled along over low-ish heat, undisturbed, for a couple of minutes (I peeked occasionally), and bingo, the caramel effortlessly melted itself into the cream. I whisked in vanilla and salt and had myself a gorgeous amber sauce.
But I didn’t stop there. I made the sauce again, this time heating the cream first. It worked like a charm, too, and I never needed to cover the pan. So you’ve got two more good reasons now to make a salted caramel something!