I have just moved to Asheville to begin the newest phase of my life as a student of the culinary arts. With the madness of moving back to the country and then moving again shortly after, I’ve been too busy to prepare for the Holidays. This recipe is perfect if you need to produce a special DIY gift on the fly for a bunch of special people.
The exact origins of caramel are unknown, but can generally be traced back to the 17th century. The word itself is from French, meaning ‘burnt sugar’. This came to us via Old Spanish, ultimately from Medieval Latin, traditionally from Latin, possibly from an Arabic origin. Either way, this gorgeous goo has been around for a while. If it has never lived in your fridge, perhaps now is the time.
I first tried making caramel for molten lava cakes. I had a bit left over which was used to top pumpkin pies for Thanksgiving. These pies were the best pumpkin pies any of us had ever eaten. And since I’d made a lot of pie filling, we were happily having repeat pie every night. This caramel is very versatile and makes everything really, incredibly decedent and delicious.
Drizzle it on top of your ice cream, stir a dollop in your coffee, spread a little on toast, or eat it with a spoon. Soon, you too, will be as infatuated as I am.
Homemade Salted Caramel with Vanilla
(yields about six cups!)
- 4 cups granulated sugar
- 2 cups/500 ounces unsalted butter cut into pieces
- 2 ½ cups heavy cream
- 1 tablespoon salt
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
-Heat sugar in a saucepan over medium heat. Stir continuously with a rubber spatula to avoid burning. The granules will clumps and eventually melt.
-Once the sugar is liquefied, add all of the butter and stir rapidly until the pieces have melted completely. The sugar will not combine with the butter, but stirring will ensure a smooth end product.
-Using a whisk to stir, slowly pour the cream into the mixture. Due to the coldness of the cream, the hot mixture will splatter as the cream is poured in. Continue pouring and rapidly whisking the mixture until the cream is fully incorporated and the caramel is smooth.
-Stir in salt and vanilla and let the caramel boil for one minute. Remove from heat.
-Let the caramel cool before distributing into gift containers. Small mason jars worked very well for me. Discard any chunks of sugar that may have hardened.
-Keep refrigerated for 3-4 weeks.
Share with friends and loved ones. Happy Holidays!