Salted Caramel Sauce

How’s everyone doing? Staying sane? I keep forgetting to brush my teeth so I’m working on that. The good news is I finally read the cookbook Salt, Fat, Acid, Heat: Mastering the Elements of Good Cooking and it drastically improved my cooking. I still have a lot to digest but the chapter on salt made the biggest impact.

According to Samin (author of Salt, Fat, Acid, Heat: Mastering the Elements of Good Cooking) the type of salt used determines the amount needed in a recipe. I use Diamond Crystal Kosher Salt and it turns out that I need about double the amount usually called for to properly season even the simplest of muffins. Check out this chart on how much salt is needed per 1 cup of flour for batters and doughs: Fine Sea Salt – 3/4 teaspoon, Table Salt – 2/3 teaspoon, Morton’s Kosher Salt – 3/4 teaspoon, Diamond Crystal Kosher Salt – 1 1/8 teaspoon. Is your mind blown?? I was shocked at the differences. Yet my math skills are paying off because I do think my food has never tasted better.

After reading the book (this is how I refer to it now: The Book and Mike knows what book I’m talking about), I knew I had to try one of the recipes. I decided on the salted caramel sauce for multiple reasons. 1. I actually had the ingredients in my house. 2. I’ve dabbled in caramel over the years but never found a recipe that was so perfect it needed to be made more than once. I’ve made caramel for apples that was too runny and took too long. I’ve made caramel candy so soft that I used it as a sauce. These problems most likely stem from not being to accurately read my ancient candy thermometer. 3. Recipe didn’t require a candy thermometer.

Needless to say, I’m completely smitten. I’ve made it four times in the last couple weeks. The dark amber sauce coats the back of a spoon and adds a layer of decadence to any dessert. I pour it over brownies, drizzle it on top of ice cream or dip apples for a wholesome quarantine snack. Take a spoonful and let it melt on your tongue and enjoy the indulgence that comes from such simple ingredients as butter, sugar and cream.

I can’t recommend this cookbook enough. Or the caramel sauce for that matter. I hope you are all finding inspiration and joy in the midst of all that is going on in the world. Stay healthy everyone!

Salted Caramel Sauce

Makes 8 ounces

Slightly adapted from Salt, Fat, Acid, Heat: Mastering the Elements of Good Cooking

Who knew caramel was so simple! No candy thermometer or special ingredients. It moves fast so don’t walk away from the stove. If the sauce separates during cooking just whisk in a splash of hot water to bring it all back together.

Ingredients:

  • 6 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/2 teaspoon Diamond Crystal Kosher Salt (half if using table salt)

Directions:

In a medium saucepan, melt butter on medium and then whisk in sugar and increase heat to medium-high. Stir until the mixture comes to a boil and then stop stirring. Brown spots will be visible in the pan. Give it one gentle swish so the caramel browns evenly. Continue cooking until deep amber in color and starts to smoke, about 3-5 minutes. Remove from heat and carefully whisk in heavy cream. Cool the caramel for 30 minutes and then add the vanilla and salt. Depending on the type of salt you use, you may need less so taste and adjust. The sauce will thicken as it cools.

To serve: Let caramel cool to room temperature and pour over ice cream or use as a dip for apples. Store leftovers in the refrigerator for up to a month. Warm leftovers in the microwave for 10-15 seconds and stir before serving.

Holiday Goodies 2018

Its the time of year where I want to hide in the kitchen all day and make ALL the family favorites. I’m having such a hard time deciding so I decided to make a list of everything on my mind and then choose a few (ha!) from there.

Peanut Brittle – I have never made nor eaten a better brittle so I think this is a must.

Jam Thumbprints – I slightly adapted this recipe for my holiday kids baking class and it was so good! I used only raspberry jam and rolled them in raw sugar for a nice crunch.

Granola – This makes a fantastic teacher gift or housewarming gift. I usually do 1/2 cup walnuts and add raw pumpkin seeds and raw sunflower seeds to make the other 1/2 cup.

Chocolate Covered Pretzels – No recipe needed! Melt good quality chocolate (I use ghirardelli chips). Dip pretzel rods in chocolate and roll in crushed candy canes or sprinkles. Dry on parchment paper.

Mom’s Soft Sugar Cookies – Always my favorite and I included some easy decorating tips if you need any.

Sparkling Molasses Cookies – I’m a sucker for gingersnaps but I like the slightly deeper flavor and chewy texture of these molasses cookies.

Fresh Ginger Cake – If we’re on the topic of ginger, then I have to tell you about this fresh ginger cake. No matter that my batter overflowed the pan – it was still one of my favorite cakes ever.

M&M Cookies – These are Kai’s favorite and maybe I’ll get some red and green M&Ms and go for it.

Bittersweet Almond Toffee – Homemade candy is a staple of Christmas baking and toffee is always a big hit. So easy too!

Ok – what do you guys think? Do you have any favorites? Happy Baking!

Caramel Coated Popcorn

Growing up in Iowa, corn was everywhere. Though sweet corn is beloved by all, it is only available in the summertime. For my family, to get a year round corn fix, we ate popcorn.

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Beautiful creamy colors from multi-colored popcorn kernels

Laying in my bed, I’d hear the shuffle of feet overhead with the whirl of the air popper spitting out hot popped corn. The microwave beeped and the mixing bowl clanked against the counter as the butter knife folded the butter into the hot popcorn. It was my parents’ reward for a job well done. How I loved the smell of the nightly popcorn!  As the years went by, mom and dad’s evening ritual became a family affair. The kernels squeaked when pressed against my teeth as I watched Barbara Walters on 20/20.

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For my wedding, I received my very own air popper. Seventeen years later and it’s still good as new. The popcorn maker and the bag of yellow kernels are brought out after the children have been tucked into bed. We attentively pop the corn, melt the butter and sprinkle with coarse sea salt before settling the bowl in between our laps on the couch. It’s earthy aroma grounds me and I feel at home.The perfect reward for a job well done.

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Though I’ve eaten popcorn most of my life, I didn’t know much about it until recently. Did you know that popcorn is a special corn plant that is grown for just this purpose? Mostly grown in the Midwest, it is harvested and dried until the kernels reach the perfect level of hydration. Different varieties abound and each offers a slightly different texture and appearance. The multi colored variety, bought in the grocery store’s bulk bin, produced smaller, creamy colored and slightly sweeter popped corn.

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As the summer turns to fall, I find myself craving a popcorn treat to harold in the new season. As opposed to caramel corn or popcorn balls, This caramel coated popcorn is incredibly quick and easy. Unlike most caramel corn recipes, this one doesn’t require an hour of stirring in the oven. Unlike, popcorn balls, these have a richer flavor and no burnt fingers! The caramel coats the popcorn and creates a crisp shell.

Caramel Coated Popcorn

Though corn syrup seems the perfect accompaniment to caramel corn, I found that Lyle’s Golden Syrup imparted a fuller flavor to this recipe, plus I love the tin it came in. When using a candy thermometer, be sure to read the temperature when the tip is not touching the bottom of the pan. Enjoy!

Ingredients:

  • ¼ cup popcorn kernels
  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter
  • 1/4 cup Lyle’s Golden Syrup
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1 cup sugar
  • ½ teaspoon kosher salt
  • ¼ teaspoon baking soda

Directions:

Grease a baking sheet and set aside. Pop corn with whatever method you like best. Pick out and discard all unpopped kernels and pour into large bowl. In a small saucepan, add butter, syrup, water and sugar. Stir and bring to a boil on medium high. Turn down to medium low and clip a candy thermometer to the side. The mixture should stay at a boil. Turn the oven up slightly if not. Cook without stirring until the temperature reaches 300℉, about 15 minutes. Take off the heat and stir in baking soda and salt. The mixture will foam and bubble. Quickly pour over popcorn and stir with a wooden spoon. The caramel hardens quickly so no daudiling. Pour into greased sheet pan. Let cool slightly and then separate into smaller chunks as desired. Let cool. Store at room temperature in an airtight container for 2 days.