Great culinary ideas never cease to amaze me, especially in my field. Were always working on ways to create unique blends of spices and herbs that will enhance and elevate food to a new level. So ever since salted caramel appeared on the culinary scene, Ive been over the moon for it. While caramel tastes great on its own, when you add the crunchiness of sea salt it goes from being simply delicious to sublime. The indelible taste of sweetness and the crunchiness of salt induce a delightful chain-reaction in your taste-buds.
It is no surprise to see the many different ways in which salted caramel is being used in creating some of most extraordinary desserts, such as: Salted Caramel & Chocolate Cupcakes, Salted Caramel Frosted Kahlua Brownies, Salted Caramel Chocolate Chip Cookie Bars, Salted Caramel Peach Crumble Pie, Dark Chocolate Salted Caramel Cupcakes, and Vanilla Ice Cream w/ Salted Caramel & Pepper Sauce how awesome is that? But why stop there, sprinkle salted caramel over popcorn or fruit salads -- your taste-buds will scream out in sheer delight. And for all you coffee lovers out there, sprinkle a little salted caramel over your latte, and you will jett off to espresso paradise.
We all know that caramel is pure sugar that has been delicately burned in a controlled cooking method. Add cream and vanilla to it and you have your basic caramel sauce. And most everyone knows that sea salt is 100% evaporated seawater. We favor using fleur de sel whenever we make a creamy caramel sauce. Fleur de sel are flaky grains of pure sea salt that adds great flavor and crunch to the caramel. By adding salt to foods helps certain molecules in those foods release more easily into the air, which enhances the aroma of the food, as well as our perception of taste. The salt teases out the sweetness of the sauce, which makes caramel go from being one dimensional to something more complex.
Perhaps you may want to try making your own salted caramel sauce. There are two different ways to make a basic caramel: wet caramel, where sugar is melted with water then cooked; and dry caramel, where sugar is melted until it liquefies and caramelizes.
Because melting sugar can be tricky, the most important thing to know about making caramel is to be sure to cook it to just the right color and flavor. Next thing to consider is making sure that the sugar doesn't become a grainy mess. If you under cook the caramel it will just taste sweet; burn it too much and you might as well throw it away. But most importantly, never take your eye off the pan, as the melting sugar can go from copper red to being burnt very, very quickly.
Below is an easy to follow recipe for making Caramel with Vanilla Fleur de Sel, an exquisite hand-harvested sea salt from France flavored with premium ground vanilla bean:
Caramel Sauce w/Vanilla Fleur de Sel - click on link