One flavor that I absolutely love this time of year is caramel. I mean, I love caramel all year long, but it's especially good when paired with crispy, slightly sour apples. And with apple picking season starting up, I just had to make some homemade caramel. The flavor compared to most store-bought caramels I've tried truly is WAY better.
The caramel dipping sauce is made on the stovetop and can be kept warm in a fondue pot for hours of easy dipping fun. 🙂 I actually tried quite a few times to see if I could get a method down to make the sauce in my electric fondue pot instead of the stovetop, but it just didn't work as well. Caramel is a bit temperamental because different variations of heat can cause sugar to do all sorts of things…too much and you can end up with solid candy caramels instead of a dip-able sauce. So you need a bit more control than an electric fondue pot really allows for, or at least that has been my experience.
1 cup sugar
2 tablespoons water
3 tablespoons butter
1 cup heavy whipping cream
1 teaspoon salt* (plus more for serving)
*I love all kinds of salt, but one of my very favorites that I recommend for this sauce is Maldon sea salt. It's flaky and great for topping desserts in general, but it also has a wonderful, ocean-y taste. I don't know another way to really describe it. It's awesome and a small box will last you a long time provided you protect it from excessive moisture. But you can use any sea salt for this if you don't have Maldon salt.
In a medium-sized pot with a heatproof spatula, heat the sugar and water over medium heat. The sugar will release more moisture and begin to boil. It may also clump some as it begins its transformation process, so don't fret if it does.
Increase the heat a little and the sugar will begin to breakdown into a liquid and turn a dark amber color. Don't allow it to burn (you'll be able to smell it if it does), but I do like to let my caramel get to almost burning before removing it from the heat. I like the rich flavor it adds, but that's just me. This takes a bit of practice. So if it's your first time making caramel, just take care not to burn it and you'll be OK.
Once it's amber and you've removed it from the heat, stir in the butter. Be careful as you add it to the pot because it will probably sputter at you, and you don't want to get hot sugar on your hands or arms because it will burn and stick, unlike hot water which would just roll off. So take care!
Once the butter has melted, slowly drizzle in the cream. Again, be careful. You may need to return the caramel to low heat if it seems to seize up at all. Slowly drizzle and whisk or stir and it should all come together. Then stir in your salt.
Now you can keep your sauce warm in your fondue pot and serve it with a little more sea salt sprinkled over the top.
Credits // Author and Photography: Emma Chapman. Photos edited with A Beautiful Mess actions.