Golden Amber Delight

EpicureanPiranha | May 1st, 2010 - 20:35

A few days before Easter, I made a triple batch of this heavenly, unctuous, golden amber nectar, otherwise known as Caramel à  la Fleur de Sel.

Golden Amber Delight

Golden Amber Delight or Caramel à la Fleur de Sel

Contrary to what you may believe, making caramel is easy. You don’t even need a candy thermometer, although you will need either a heavy-bottomed stainless steel or enamled cast iron saucepan [such as the gorgeous pans made by Le Creuset.] The reason for this is that they provide even heat distribution, and will enable the sugar syrup to caramelise without scortching. In fact, a few saucepans of this quality is a very worthwhile investment for any cook who wants to be successful in the kitchen.

making caramel - cooking sugar

cooking sugar and water mixture

But I digress … back to the simple art of making this golden amber nectar! I love caramel ♥ home-made caramel that is ♥ almost as much as I love an intense, dark, velvety smooth chocolate. This recipe is one of many from well-known and much loved Québec chef, Ricardo Larrivée. He is a self-confessed caramel aficionado, and his caramel and caramel recipes are second to none! The only ingredients in this recipe are sugar, rich 35% cream, sweet [unsalted] butter, and Fleur de Sel ~ which is as it should be! Divine ♥

I particularly love this recipe which uses sweet, unsalted butter and fleur de sel, which, if it was to be literally translated, means “the flower of salt”. Neither crushed nor washed, this rare fleur de sel is hand-collected in Guérande, France, according to ancient artisan methods dating back over a thousand years! I suspect it is called this because it has a very delicate, light, crystalline structure. It also has an incomparable taste that positively brings out the flavour of foods. For these reasons, it is normally added at the end of the preparation, just before serving. It also brings out the taste of certain sweet foods when used in small quantities – for example, in a quality dark chocolate or in caramel.

You can find the French version of this recipe on Ricardo’s website: Caramel à  la Fleur de Sel de Ricardo. It will take about 45 minutes to prepare a triple batch, because it takes longer to caramelise this amount of sugar. But trust me, it’s well worth the effort! It keeps well for several weeks in the fridge when stored in clean, airtight glass jars, although if your family and friends are anything like mine, you’ll be glad you made more and lucky if it lasts a few days!

making caramel - cooking sugar

sugar syrup beginning to turn golden

I’ve translated the ingredients for Ricardo’s recipe below. I’ve provided my own step-by-step instructions for caramelising sugar to guarantee your success, and for making this rich amber caramel. If you are a gourmand like me, you will want to eat the golden caramel straight out of the jar with a spoon :-) Both the caramelised sugar and caramel caned use in a variety of ways. Have a look at the Notes below for ideas on using caramelised sugar.

Ingredients for Caramel à la Fleur de Sel

250 ml (1 c) granulated white sugar
60 ml (1/4 c) water
125 ml (1/2 c) rich whipping cream [35%]
2,5 ml (1/2 tsp) fleur de sel
60 ml (1/4 c) sweet [unsalted] butter, cut in cubes

Method

  • Warm the cream until hot but do NOT boil; set aside.
  • Have a small bowl of water and a pastry brush beside you. Put the sugar and water in a large saucepan, and place on medium heat.
  • Wash down any sugar crystals that you see abouve the syrup by wetting the pastry brush and brushing it just above the crystals.
  • Cook without stirring until it reaches a light golden amber colour. As soon as this happens, remove from the heat.
  • Gently pour in the warm cream all at once, add the salt, and stir with a long wooden spoon. Return to the heat and bring back to the boil while stirring, until the mixture looks smooth.
  • Now remove from the heat once more and add the cubed butter a little at a time, mixing well to incorporate.
  • Tranfer to clean jars that have been rinsed in boiling water and dried in the oven or with a clean linen cloth, and allow to cool a little before sealing. Or pour it into a clean bowl and use in a favourite recipe, such as Ricardo’s caramel filled muffins :-)
caramel - adding cream

Be cautious when adding the cream as it will bubble furiously and more than double in volume!

This caramel is divine when spread on hot buttered country-style bread, when used as a topping on ice cream, hot pancakes, as a flavouring for Swiss meringue buttercream, and in many other ways! Why not let your imagination run wild :->

Notes ♥ :

  • As the sugar syrup starts to boil, occasionally take the pastry brush dipped in water and run it along the inner edge of the saucepan. This is to ensure that no sugar crystals cling to the side of the pan. If sugar crystals come into contact with the boiling syrup they will cause the liquid to crystalise and the syrup will be lumpy!
  • The sugar liquid takes a while to start changing colour, but as soon as it does, it will darken very fast! A heavy-bottomed saucepan retains heat very well, so even when you take the syrup off the heat, it will continue cooking and could burn!  Therefore, after the first few minutes, watch it carefully.As soon as it turns a nice golden colour, remove from the heat. Pour in the warm cream gently but all at once, keeping a distance, as it will bubble furiously and more than double in volume for a few minutes [remember that the mixture is scalding hot and can burn your skin].
  • If you wish, you can use the caramelised sugar as-is without adding the cream and butter. It will then harden very quickly and produce a gorgeous, jewel-like, crystaline candy. Work quickly to dip fruits into it so as to give them an elegant, crystaline, amber coating [beautiful on physalis, also known as "Cape gooseberries"], to make transparent shapes [with or without molds] for decorating pastry, to pour onto toasted nuts for making caramelised nuts, and so on.

7 Responses to “Golden Amber Delight”

  1. dubonnet says:

    Caramel, chocolate…chocolate, caramel! So hard to decide….but caramel often wins!!
    This looks easy and fabulous!!

    • Hello Sharon! I’m so happy you have registered!

      Yes, this caramel is easy to make and soooo good no matter how you eat it!

      I’ll try to post that meringue topped cake recipe as soon as I can – it’s actually two recipes, because it was filled with home made lemon curd which is so yummy!

      Ciao for now!

    • Chocolate or caramel ?

      ….why choose! Both is better – :->

      Of course, this is a gourmand gourmet speaking !

      …. ~ Epi

  2. SolangeLancup says:

    Ce caramel est merveilleux…je l’ai goûté et je l’ai caché pour l’avoir tout pour moi!!!

  3. dbutali66 says:

    HI Marie,
    fantastic article.
    i’ll follow your step and i’ll tell you the result.

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