When I set out to make chocolate bread pudding last weekend, I knew it had to have a caramel sauce to go with it. Sauces are such a vital part of some dishes, adding an extra element of flavor and texture that brings the entire dish to a completely different level. I’ve made a handful of caramel sauces in my day, though typically as a part of a recipe, and never just to stand alone like this one. I can remember back to the early days of my baking when I couldn’t execute a successful caramel recipe if my life depended on it, either because I didn’t use a thermometer or my nerves won out or I just didn’t have the confidence. Over time, it’s become something I can conquer easily, a simple element that multiples flavor like nothing else.
What I love most about caramel recipes is that they are all so similar – there is a technique you must understand and master in order to make it right – much like the creaming method for cookies and cakes, or how to properly pipe frosting or temper chocolate. There are so many elemnts of baking that require patience and precision, and the exact combination of ingredients or steps to make them right, and that is what I so love about it. Baking is scientific and it is finnicky and it can make a fool out of you, but if you do it right, there is no more rewarding feeling.
This recipe is a foolproof one, and the sprinkle of fleur de sel at the end intensifies the flavor, making it something magical, and a sheer delight to eat. It’s thin and silky when you finish cooking it, but firms up quite a lot when it cools, so to use it as a sauce, it needs a few seconds in the microwave to loosen up.
Kevin might deny it, but I saw him stick a finger right into the jar the day I brought it home. He wasn’t fortunate enough to get to experience the bread pudding and sauce straight out of the oven, but there’s still plenty of caramel left for enjoying. He’s not the only one with a penchant for this sweet stuff either… I had to hide it in the fridge from myself! Out of sight is out of mind, right?!
This is a sweet, silky, salty delight. I can see this being drizzled over a bowl of ice cream, whipped into frostings to cover a cupcake, or just eaten with a spoon if you’re feeling particularly indulgent. It’s good stuff.
Read on for the recipe and giveaway below!
Salted Caramel Sauce
adapted from Erin’s Food Files
1 cup water
2 cups sugar
1 cup heavy cream
2 tablespoons cold unsalted butter
1 teaspoon grey sea salt or fleur de sel (I used fleur de sel)
1) Add water to a 2-qt saucepan. Gently add the sugar to the center of the pot – it will mound, that’s fine. Cover the pot and bring to a boil over high heat.
2) Once boiling, uncover the pot and insert a candy thermometer. Continue cooking until the mixture registers 300 F and is just starting to develop some color, about 15 minutes. Reduce heat under the pot to medium and cook until the syrup is amber and registers 350 F on the thermometer, about another 5 minutes. Meanwhile, pour the cream into a small saucepan and bring to a simmer. If it simmers before the syrup is ready, just take it off the heat and set aside.
3) Remove the caramel from the heat and add about 1/4 of the warm cream to the pot. It will bubble furiously so be careful. Once the bubbling subsides, add the remaining cream. When it stops bubbling, whisk gently to incorporate fully. Add the butter and the salt and whisk to combine.
Refrigerate up to 1 month.
Today I am also hosting my very first giveaway! One person will win a one-pound bag of Farmhouse Blend coffee, a reusable travel mug, and coupons for two free hot or iced coffees from Cumberland Farms. When I was approached about this giveaway, I knew little about the quality of coffee from Cumberland Farms – I’ve never really bought coffee from convenience stores before, but it’s actually great stuff.
Farmhouse Blend has just the right blend of 100% Arabica beans, giving it a wonderful blend of aroma, body, and flavor. And it’s just $0.99 for any size, iced or hot, at any time, so quality coffee doesn’t have to be a “splurge.” Cumbarland Farms Farmhouse Blend will change the way consumer think about convenience store coffee. Cumberland Farms has been a family-owned and operated New England business since 1939. That’s certainly the kind of business I can get behind.
To enter, simply tell me how you like your coffee. And as an extra entry, follow @cumberlandfarms and tweet “I want to win Farmhouse Blend from @cumberlandfarms and @tbren15” and then come back here and leave a comment letting me know you did. I’ll pick a winner on Friday night, November 11th. Don’t forget to leave me your email address so I can notify you if you win!
Even if you don’t win, you can still want to try Farmhouse Blend – Cumberland Farms will be hosting Free Coffee Fridays on November 11, 18, and 25 at all Cumberland Farms locations, while supplies last, so get it when you can!