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salted caramel sauce

January 7, 2010

More appropriately, this post would be called “burnt salted caramel sauce” or perhaps “why you should always make caramel with white sugar”.

I prefer using cane sugar for just about everything.  Part of my whole “the less refined the better” kick.  And normally that’s fine.  Baking, coffee, etc.  And then I decided that I wanted to make a caramel sauce to spice up a chocolate gateau I was making and put to use some cream I had in the fridge with a looming expiration date.  (And when I say looming, I mean it had already past.)

Despite the fact that there was one that looked fabulous from smitten kitchen, I didn’t have salted butter.  Now granted, I could have just added salt, but logic doesn’t always rule in the KC kitchen, so my google search continued.  Fleur de sel caramel sauce came up with a recipe from a blog called Cork and Rind.

Since Mr. KC has offered his help, I asked him to read the recipe to tell me how much sugar.  No problem.

Mr. KC: “1/2 sugar”
Me: “That doesn’t help me, I need the measurement.
Mr. KC: “1/2 sugar.  That’s what it says”
Me: “1/2 of what?!  Let me see that.”

And sure enough the recipe called for 1/2 sugar.  I took a leap of faith/utilized common sense to deduce that it was a 1/2 cup and carried on.   Note to self:  Check previous recipes posted at some point to make sure ingredients are listed properly.

The real  lesson came after adding the sugar and the water to the pot.  A crucial part of making caramel is, well, the caramelizing process.  And how does one judge that?  Right, the color.

Use cane sugar and this is what you get.

Oh, what a pretty amber color you might say.  Except for the fact that this was IMMEDIATELY after adding the water.  The color never really changed.  This was the color for the entire time.  So, when one sense fails you, another picks up the slack.  I spent the next 10 minutes with my nose in the air above the steaming pot, waiting for that moment when it went from smelling like nothing to smelling like caramel.

The verdict:  Stick to using your eyes.  While using my nose worked, it worked only in being about 10 seconds behind resulting in a very nice burnt caramel taste, but not what I was out to achieve.  Either way, we still ate every scrap of it, and it complemented the chocolate gateau nicely (recipe to come).

Salted Caramel Sauce
from Cork and Rind


  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1/2 cup WHITE sugar
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1/2 (scant) teaspoon fleur de sel (or coarse kosher salt)


  1. Combine water and sugar in a small sauce pan over medium heat.
  2. Stir the water and the sugar to make sure that it dissolves evenly.
  3. Turn up heat to medium-high until water-sugar mixture simmers.
  4. Continue to stir as the sugar begins to caramelize.
  5. Let simmer about 10 minutes until mixture begins to turn amber.
  6. Watch closely and continue cooking until mixture is entirely amber brown,
  7. Turn heat to medium low and add in heavy cream.  Be careful here, kids, the mixture bubbles up with the addition of the cream and we don’t want any more burns.
  8. Remove pan from heat and stir in butter and fleur de sel or kosher salt.
  9. Stir evenly incorporate butter and salt.
  10. Pour over anything resembling dessert.  Enjoy!

15 Comments leave one →
  1. January 8, 2010 8:27 am

    Awww, I’m sorry your burnt it. The final product looks really good, though.

    • January 8, 2010 8:35 am

      Thanks, Memoria. It was really touch and go there for awhile, but it got the thumbs up from Mr. KC, so I felt like my nose didn’t let me down too badly in the end.

  2. PatW permalink
    January 8, 2010 11:49 am

    I make a caramel icing that uses the same group of ingredients. However it’s put together differently. You caramelize the sugar, and at the same time, heat the cream to just under boiling. When the sugar mixture is nice and golden brown, add it to the hot cream. It will bubble up as described, but you won’t have to cook out a lump of seized caramel nearly as often.

    Your sauce sounds great. I may make it sometime, since I like caramel better than chocolate!

    • January 8, 2010 12:27 pm

      Thanks, Pat! That’s a great idea. I’ll have to try that the next time. This time around, I definitely dealt with a lump, but it whisked out really easily (whew!).

      Let me know how the sauce turns out if you end up trying it out.

  3. January 8, 2010 8:02 pm

    Pretty, pretty, pretty. Love caramel……with a passion. Usually make a caramel curd …..

  4. July 14, 2010 10:22 pm

    This looks so absolutely fantastic!!!

  5. November 15, 2010 6:27 am

    I loved this post for Caramel. but i have a question. I just made this, and the caramel is extremely runny, not the typical texture of oozy caramel.
    Would you know how to fix this?


    • November 15, 2010 11:15 am

      Hmmm, curious. I actually had almost the exact opposite problem of it being too thick. I would try one of two things. One you could just try leaving it over a low flame to continue to heat to see if that thickens it up or two add the tiniest bit of cornstarch, which is essentially my answer to thickening anything up.

  6. Alison permalink
    December 16, 2010 1:07 pm


    Just wanted to say THANKS for the recipe and detailed instructions. I have never been able to make caramel without burning it, but this one came out GREAT. Im going to use the salted carmel over vanilla ice cream with melted chocolate!


  7. December 16, 2010 1:40 pm

    You’re so very welcome, Alison! Glad it turned out well. I actually just tried my hand at candy making this weekend (fleur de sel caramels), which turned out well and were much easier than I expected them to be. Make sure to stay tuned.


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