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Step 1: How To
1. Start by pouring the liquid cream into a small saucepan.
2. Place the sugar and the water in a thick bottomed, high edged saucepan that has a lid. Put the lid on the sugar and water mixture, and place on a medium to low heat. At this stage you're simply dissolving the sugar into the water. The water will evaporate and then condense on the lid. As it will have nowhere else to go but back into the mix, it will trickle down the edges of the pan. This is important as the water droplets will clean the edges of the pan of any eventual sugar crystals that may have formed at the surface of the mixture, if these were left alone they would stick to the edges of the pan and later impact the caramel by encouraging the whole mixture to crystallise. The lid also removes any temptation to stir the mixture, which could also cause the sugar to crystallise (as I discovered in early tests, to my dismay). If you don't have a lid you can rinse off those crystals from the edge with a brush, but beware of stray brush hairs falling into the sugar.
3. When the crystals have dissolved, and your sugar-water mix has formed a clear syrup you can remove the lid and potentially put your thermometer into the pan - although I found my mix wasn't really deep enough to do this anyway.
4. Turn the heat up on the cream to almost bring it to a boil.
5. Don't be tempted to stir your caramel! If you really can't resist, however, make sure you use a wooden spoon and not a metal one to not affect the temperature of the whole thing. The best thing to do if you see your caramel isn't heating evenly is to swirl the whole pan around. When the mix reaches between 80-100°C it should already be bubbling but still clear. The water will start to evaporate and therefore the syrup will thicken. Around 110°C the syrup will start to turn golden in places, and already at 120°C it will start smelling really good, like caramel.
6. You're supposed to reach 180°C for the mix to be caramel, at this point the caramel will be a deep golden colour - just be careful not to let it heat past this point or it'll start to burn and your 'caramel' will have a bitter taste. When it reaches this point, you can remove the pan from the heat and pour in the hot liquid cream, being EXTREMELY CAREFUL and pouring slowly as the mixture will bubble up and maybe even spit - don't forget your sugar is almost twice as how as boiling water - I don't know if you can imagine how painful that could be to touch!
7. Once you've poured all the cream in, stir it with a wooden spoon. The caramel will lighten in colour and thicken. Add in the butter and the Himalayan salt (most recipes call for fleur de sel, but I personally found it too expensive, hence the Himalayan salt), and stir them in.
8. You can now pour your caramel into your jar. Let it cool for a while, then put the lid on a leave it to set in the fridge for a couple of hours.
9. When it's done you'll still be able to spoon it out and spread it, but it'll be thick enough to not slip right off a knife. Yum!!
Step 2: Playing With Sugar
There's something very satisfying about being able to make your own salted caramel. It's so easy to mess up by burning the sugar and rendering it bitter and inedible that you just feel like you've really achieved something when you get it right. And then it just tastes absolutely delicious and can be used for so many things, it's so worth it.
Don't be put off trying this recipe because you're scared of getting it wrong, if you make sure you have a thick bottomed saucepan that heats evenly, add water to the pan and a lit so the condensation washes away those crystals and only stir by swirling the pan you'll get the hang if it in no time! Then you'll be able to impress your friends and family with your newly found skills. Everyone will be asking you for more, you might have to start collecting jars and give them away as gifts!
( And Christmas is coming up, just saying!)
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