For 2011, one of my goals is try one new recipe per week - preferably from one of the cookbooks piled high on the shelf in the corner. However, to start things off I am going to review a couple recipes I got off the Internet. You know, as a warm up. I hope you'll join and post the recipes you are trying in your comments.
This one comes from Ina Garten over at FoodNetwork.com
1 1/2 cups sugar
1/3 cup water
1 1/4 cups heavy cream
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
Mix the water and sugar in a medium heavy-bottomed saucepan. Cook over low heat for 5 to 10 minutes, until the sugar dissolves. Do not stir.
Here I had a problem. I just dumped the suage into the water and did not stir. That was wrong. You should stir the sugar and the water together at the beginning to ensure that the sugar dissolves into the water. You can tell the sugar is dissolving because the liquid will go from cloudy to clear. Once the liquid begins to clear up. That is when you should not stir.
Increase the heat to medium and boil uncovered until the sugar turns a warm chestnut brown (about 350 degrees F on a candy thermometer), about 5 to 7 minutes, gently swirling the pan to stir the mixture. Be careful – the mixture is extremely hot! Watch the mixture very carefully at the end, as it will go from caramel to burnt very quickly.
As soon as the sugar mixture had a brownish color I turned off the heat because I was scared of it burning. This resulted in a sweeter caramel sauce.
Turn off the heat. Stand back to avoid splattering and slowly add the cream and vanilla. Don't worry - the cream will bubble violently and the caramel will solidify.
And by solidify, she means you will have a hard chunk of what looks like brown glass in the middle of a pan of cream. Don't worry. This is right.
Simmer over low heat, stirring constantly, until the caramel dissolves and the sauce is smooth, about 2 minutes. It took me a little longer, but you'll be able to tell. It's when the hard chunk in the middle is melted into all of the cream.
Allow to cool to room temperature, at least 4 hours. It will thicken as it sits.
I struggled with how to store this until my husband had the brilliant idea to store in the empty 12-oz. Squeeze Bottles 3 pk. - Clear we keep for when we make simple syrups or sauces. They were a great investment and made our brownies look extra fancy.
Overall the caramel sauce came out really really well. We have been eating gran smith apples covered in the stuff after we finished that tub of vanilla ice cream. It took about half an hour to forty minutes to make. This is not a recipe you can really walk away from because the sugar will burn so you do need uninterrupted cooking time. Enjoy!