vanilla bean caramel sauce.

i’ve never really had a ‘type.’ i’ve dated all types of boys, from all walks of life. i’ve dated rich, snobby boys. quiet, thoughtful boys. boisterous centers of attention. artsy guys. existentialists. burnouts. hipsters. musicians. philosophers. comedians.

i mean, not that i’m a harlot or anything. really.

some crushes were understandable, guys my girlfriends and i would all swoon over. other boys i pined over were baffling choices in the eyes of my friends.

and then there were downright hilarious, strange, laughable crushes. ones that literally made no sense. boys that i think about today and laugh, laugh, laugh about ever liking because, well, i don’t think i understood it then and i certainly don’t now.

there was a boy in high school who, during my freshman year who i was absolutely infatuated with. why, i seriously don’t know. this is a boy who was obsessed with professional wrestling, ate a pound of lunchmeat at a time, and frequently used the phrase ‘jabroni’ in everyday conversation.

i know, you’re swooning. inexplicably, 14-year old me was, as well.

anyhow. one of the most hilarious memories i have of this boy involves a group of friends after school, a coffee shop, and a dare.

when i was starting high school, it was right around the time that the concept of the coffee shop was becoming mainstream and more accessible to the masses. when the starbucks near my high school opened, my friends and i flocked there after school almost every day. there was just something so cool, so grown-up, i suppose, about drinking a cup of coffee and gossiping. it’s what i always thought and hoped being an adult would be like. even now, the coffee shop is a big part of life; though with a different group of friends, i’m still always shooting the shit with a gigantic latte in hand.

but i digress. so this peculiar object of my affection, myself and a group of other friends were at our local starbucks, drinking coffee and generally being pain-in-the-ass teenagers. someone dared the boy of my fourteen-year old dreams to purchase and consume a bottle of starbucks’ liquidy, ultra-sweet caramel sauce in one sitting. being a boy, and boys incapable of refusing a challenge, he accepted. suffice to say that he completed the task at hand, got completely covered in sticky-sweet sauce, and promptly threw up from sugar overload after it was all over. hilarious. disgusting. and somehow at the time, i found him completely charming and endearing.

well, at least my taste improved. that crush bloomed into an unbelievably awkward date to homecoming, and in turn, a two-week long ‘relationship.’ from which i learned to never, ever date anyone who uses the term ‘jabroni.’

it’s been a long time since i was a silly fourteen-year old girl, and i’ve had a lot of time to develop a recipe for caramel sauce, one that doesn’t remind me of teenage boys ralphing.


this caramel sauce is, for lack of a better word, perfect. it’s sweet without being cloying, it’s sumptuous and has a lot of body. it’s perfect drizzled atop vanilla ice cream, or over a chocolate cake, or as a dip for apples, or just eaten with a spoon, straight from the jar. shhh. don’t tell.

vanilla bean caramel sauce

yields 1 cup

this would make absolutely perfect homemade gifts for the holidays! how do i know? well, because it’s one of the homemade treats i’m giving this year! who doesn’t love caramel sauce?

special equipment necessary

heavy-bottomed saucepan, at least 2 quart size
whisk
oven mitts

what you’ll do

wait! before you start this recipe, make sure you have everything ready to go, measured out, and close by. making caramel sauce is a time-sensitive undertaking, and in the time you spend tearing your kitchen apart looking for vanilla, your caramel could self-destruct.

also, this is kind of dangerous. make sure you wear oven mitts, and don’t do anything silly like put your face right over the pot. there’s a reason liquified sugar is called kitchen napalm.

let’s begin, shall we?

over fairly high heat but not full-blast, heat the sugar in your pan, stirring constantly with a whisk or wooden spoon. for the first minute or so, it’ll seem like nothing is happening at all. then, you’ll see the sugar begin to liquify. then it’ll begin to clump up, and you may freak out like something’s gone awry-it hasn’t. the sugar will continue to clump, turn golden, and begin to liquify completely.

once the sugar is completely liquified and is amber-colored, add the butter. the mixture will begin to hiss and sizzle and foam up immediately, but have no fear! just continue whisking until all of the butter is melted and incorporated with the sugar.


here comes to the fun part! take the pan off the heat, say “M-i-s-s-i-s-s-i-p-p-i” or count to three, and add the cream, all the while continuously whisking. the mixture will now begin to bubble and foam up violently, but should settle down as soon as all of the cream is fully incorporated into the sauce.


let the sauce cool for about 5-7 minutes, and then add your vanilla bean scrapings/vanilla bean paste/vanilla extract. whisk until incorporated, then portion out into mason jars. i used four-ounce jars, and this recipe will fill three jars of this size, with a little extra sauce left over, you know, for noshing. allow the jars to cool to room temperature, then store in the fridge.


the caramel sauce will keep for at least two weeks in the fridge. i’ve made this countless times, and each time the sauce lasts for much, much longer than two weeks.

vanilla bean caramel sauce

yields 1 cup

Ingredients:

1 cup sugar
6 tbsp cold butter
pinch of kosher salt
1/2 cup heavy whipping cream
seeds from 1 vanilla bean, 1 tsp vanilla bean paste or 1 tsp pure vanilla extract

Directions:

wait! before you start this recipe, make sure you have everything ready to go, measured out, and close by. making caramel sauce is a time-sensitive undertaking, and in the time you spend tearing your kitchen apart looking for vanilla, your caramel could self-destruct.

also, this is kind of dangerous. make sure you wear oven mitts, and don’t do anything silly like put your face right over the pot. there’s a reason liquified sugar is called kitchen napalm.

over fairly high heat but not full-blast, heat the sugar in your pan, stirring constantly with a whisk or wooden spoon.

for the first minute or so, it’ll seem like nothing is happening at all. then, you’ll see the sugar begin to liquify. then it’ll begin to clump up, and you may freak out like something’s gone awry-it hasn’t. the sugar will continue to clump, turn golden, and begin to liquify completely.

once the sugar is completely liquified and is amber-colored, add the butter.

the mixture will begin to hiss and sizzle and foam up immediately, but have no fear! just continue whisking until all of the butter is melted and incorporated with the sugar.

here comes to the fun part! take the pan off the heat, say "M-i-s-s-i-s-s-i-p-p-i" or count to three, and add the cream, all the while continuously whisking.

the mixture will now begin to bubble and foam up violently, but should settle down as soon as all of the cream is fully incorporated into the sauce.

let the sauce cool for about 5-7 minutes, and then add your vanilla bean scrapings/vanilla bean paste/vanilla extract. whisk until incorporated, then pour into an airtight container. allow to cool to room temperature, then store in the fridge.

the caramel sauce will keep for at least two weeks in the fridge. i’ve made this countless times, and each time the sauce lasts for much, much longer than two weeks.

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5 Responses to “vanilla bean caramel sauce.”

  1. #
    1
    rachel — January 17, 2011 at 3:16 pm

    this made me giggle a lot. and the recipe looks delicious, too!

  2. #
    2
    kelly g — April 21, 2011 at 7:50 am

    i just want to make sure you know that this might be one of my most favorite things on earth. i’ve made your recipe several times. i tried a different recipe once. i can live with regret, but it won’t happen again. this recipe has spoiled me on caramel forever.

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