Ask anyone of my friends and they can tell you my obsession with salted caramel. Caramel itself is already amazing; I love its deep, intense flavour, the complexity in its sweetness – sweet yet never too cloyingly sweet. Then, unexpectedly came salt, an unlikely partner. Yet the union between salt and caramel is a happy one. Salt bringing out the best the caramel and vice versa.
This flavour combination is no longer a novelty. A couple of years ago, it took the world by storm with shops rolling out macarons, ice-cream and cupcakes. (Read this article on how salted caramel became hugely popular in the US)
However, if we attempt to trace the origin of salted caramel, we would find that it has been around for ages in the North-West of France, Brittany. They have been making caramel au beurre salé since the seventies with their specialty produce- salted butter!
Salted caramel only requires a handful of ingredients – the best butter you can afford, heavy cream, sugar, corn syrup, and fleur de sel. I adapted my recipe from here (David Lebovitz’ recipe).
Here’s a friendly reminder if this is your first time making candy: Never, never be tempted to touch the caramel, or lick the remaining caramel on the spoon. My husband, J, learnt it the hard way, his finger brushed across a the few drops of caramel left on the pot. I saw the quick flash of pain across his face before he regained his composure and put his finger under a running tap.
These salted butter caramels are very addictive. Even the few who initially turn these down saying that they don’t like sweets ended up having more than just one. You can chew on them or just let it gently melt in your mouth to pure caramel goodness. The deep flavours of the caramel is far-reaching – a hint of bitterness, nutty and toasty notes that lace its sweetness, and even a kick of savoriness from the butter and salt.
This must be one of the simplest candy to make at home, yet in my opinion, it is one of the very best. Make some for yourself and give a jar of them to your friends or neighbours. I can assure you that it will make you very popular.
Yes, it is that good.
Tips on making Caramel au beurre salé (salted butter caramels):
1. Like making meringues or sugar syrup, make sure that your pot is very clean and dry before starting. Crystals will form and congregate on a foreign object. And you don’t want to encourage crystalisation while making candy.
2. Begin cooking your pot of cream and butter first before starting on your sugar syrup. You won’t want to wait till your sugar syrup is at 150 degrees before starting to measure out your cream and butter. The syrup won’t wait for you.
3. Swirl your pot of sugar and golden syrup gently. Do not stir it too much as that will encourage crystalisation.
4. Remember to line your tin (unless you are using silicon moulds) with baking paper and grease it lightly before pouring the caramel in. This will ensure the caramel lifts easily from the paper after cooling.
5. Remember to use the right pot, deep enough. The caramel mixture bubbles over itself especially after you add the cream. You would need a pot with high enough sides to prevent the caramel from bubbling out.
6. Let the caramel cool before cutting. After it is cooled at room temperature, I like to put it in my freezer for another 5 minutes. This firms up the caramel and makes it easier to cut. And do warm up your chef’s knife before cutting. This will give you clean lines.