My previous reference to caramel sauce version 3.0 as an acceptable final product was flat out wrong. After tasting it again, the grainy texture was even more pronounced. So despite The Mistah’s insistence that he’d eat it, there was a (completely premeditated) accident that involved the garbage disposal, caramel 3.0, and a steady stream of hot water. My hope was to replace it with a proper caramel sauce without The Mistah ever knowing. Why does this sound like something that would happen if Lucy ever tried to cook for Ricky? All I needed was a partner in crime, an Ethel. My only witness to the foolishness that was about to follow was Shadow. And that doesn’t have the same comic value.
All of the previous attempts had been “wet” caramel, where you cook the sugar in water. The idea is that the sugar melts and the water cooks out. As the water cooks out, the sugar boils and develops into rich, complex caramel. Except that sometimes it doesn’t. Sometimes the sugar molecules latch onto one another in that syrup and as the water cooks out, the sugar turns back into granules.
The other approach to making caramel is a “dry” method. As you might have guessed, there’s no water used in the dry method. Some people think it’s easier to simply melt the sugar in a dry pan. I found that there are just as many pitfalls with this approach. Your sugar can still seize up into large, solid hunks if you stir it too much. Your sugar can burn if your heat is too high or you don’t stir it enough. The one batch that I did get to melt completely had a bitter, burnt taste. Of course, I didn’t know that until after I wasted the cream to turn it into sauce.
At this point, I feel like I’m damned if I do and I’m damned if I don’t. So after three more failed attempts, I walked away from Ina, Alice, Elise, and David. And out of curiosity, I picked up Bon Appetit – Fast, Easy, Fresh. Thank god they had a recipe that was neither a “wet” caramel nor a “dry” caramel. Actually, I’d have to call it more of an “alt” caramel. Because in the true sense of the word, it’s not really caramel. Yes, it is sugar and cream and butter. But it’s also corn syrup. And it’s all cooked together.
And it totally worked. It might not have the same depth as a true caramel sauce but whatever y’all. It’s still better than picking up a jar of something at the store that has more chemicals in it than my parents’ swimming pool. Yes, it has corn syrup. For some people, that’s going to be a deal breaker. Me? I can live with the compromise.
But if anyone is interested in coming to my house and schooling me on proper caramel sauce technique, I’ve still got half of that 5 pound bag of sugar looking for a purpose.
Alt Caramel Sauce
Adapted from Bon Appetit – Fast, Easy, Fresh
- 1 cup light brown sugar, packed
- 2/3 cup heavy cream
- 1/4 cup butter
- 2 tablespoons light corn syrup
Combine all ingredients in heavy saucepan and cook over medium heat until brown sugar dissolves. Increase heat to high and cook, stirring occasionally, until the sauce thickens and darkens slightly. BA-FFE says 4 minutes. I cooked mine for more like 10 minutes. Let sauce cool and enjoy.