I am a novice to making caramel, to say the least. I have never made Caramel or Salted Caramel, or had a candy thermometer, until today. I have seen many recipes and versions of Salted Caramel across the web. but which one to use? Dry, (sugar only), wet, (sugar and liquid), even butter, cream, and corn syrup, using a candy thermometer or not using one. My head was spinning. My inner Pisces was coming out, being indecisive, and I just couldn't decide on which recipe to use. I have no trouble making bigger decisions, but it's the little decisions, that drive me crazy. As my Hubby would say, It's a short trip! Some of the recipes I saw didn't use a candy thermometer, and relied on your instincts and your nose. Since I had never made caramel, I didn't have any of those instinct, so I was leary of those recipes..
I finally decided, after three hours of debating in my mind, and driving my husband crazy, to use a recipe that used a candy thermometer, and made thick, glorious caramel. That way, I would have a definite marker on the thermometer, when to take the caramel off of the heat. I had seen the recipe on Monet's blog@ Anecdotes and Applecores. This recipe makes a really thick, rich, caramel sauce, that made a large jar full of caramel goodness. I'm already fantasizing about all the yummy ways to use the sauce.
Thick Caramel Sauce From Monet@ Anecdotes and Applecores
1 cup butter
2 cups packed brown sugar
1 cup light corn syrup
1 can sweetened condensed milk
2 tablespoons whipping cream
2 teaspoons vanilla
1-2 teaspoons sea salt
1. Attach a candy thermometer to a heavy saucepan. In saucepan, bring butter, brown sugar, corn syrup, and sweetened condensed milk to a boil over medium heat, stirring with a wooden spoon. this may take several minutes.
2. Carefully and slowly stir in whipping cream. Be careful, cream will boil rapidly and can burn.
3. Continue to stir mixture until caramel reaches 238 degrees, the soft-ball stage. This will take anywhere from 5-15 minutes. (It took mine about 12 min.)
4. Remove from heat and add vanilla and salt.
5. Store in a glass jar after the mixture has cooled slightly. If your caramel is too hot, there is the risk of glass breaking.
Note: As caramel cools, it thickens. If you aren’t using caramel right away, you can store for 1-2 weeks in a glass jar. When you’re ready to enjoy your caramel, spoon out a chunk (yes, it will be that thick), add a dash of cream, and then microwave in 15 second increments until smooth.
My first way to use the Salted Caramel Sauce was to drizzle on Banana Oat Muffins. These a a great breakfast treat, that are moist from the bananas and applesauce. The rolled oats give the muffins a great texture, as well as added fiber, and the Salted Caramel drizzle and the sliced bananas are a flavorful garnish. these muffins aren't overly sweet, so the Salted Caramel Drizzle just adds a touch of sweetness. These would be great for breakfast, snacks, or brunch. Enjoy! Be on the the lookout for more Salted Caramel goodness soon.
Banana Oat Muffins with Salted Caramel Drizzle Adapted from Allrecipes.com
Makes 12 muffins
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup rolled oats
1/2 cup white sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup milk
1/3 cup vegetable oil, or unsweetened applesauce
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup mashed bananas
Salted Caramel Sauce, heated
Combine flour, oats, sugar, baking powder, soda, and salt.
In a large bowl, beat the egg lightly. Stir in the milk, oil or applesauce, and vanilla. Add the mashed banana, and combine thoroughly. Stir the flour mixture into the banana mixture until just combined. Line a 12-cup muffin tin with paper bake cups, and divide the batter among them.
Bake at 400 degrees F (205 degrees C) for 18 to 20 minutes. Cool on rack. Garnish cooled muffins with sliced bananas and Salted Caramel Sauce.