Bobbette & Belle’s Salted Caramel Sauce

I admit that I have a tendency to avoid recipes that involve melting sugar.

I hate dealing with candy thermometers and I struggle to find the balance between caramel perfection and a burnt mess than is impossible to remove from a saucepan.

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But I recently discovered that the salted caramel sauce in the Bobbette & Bellecookbook doesn’t require a candy thermometer at all. In fact, after baking this recipe TWICE, I can attest that it is super easy and virtually foolproof.

I made this sauce for some salted caramel cupcakes (which I promise I will post about in due course). It is also delicious drizzled over vanilla ice cream or eaten directly off a spoon. Not that I would know anything about that…

Although salted caramel feels kind of fancy, this recipe is anything but. There are three ingredients (sugar, cream, fleur de sel) and two steps. The steps are kind of long, but still – there are only two. Oh, and it only requires one dish. It says to use a medium saucepan, but after the boiled over disaster of the caramels last winter, I played it safe and used a bigger pot.

Step one: heat the sugar, half a cup by half a cup, over medium-high heat. This requires a whole lot of stirring to prevent the aforementioned caked on burnt caramel. The constant stirring makes it difficult to snap a photo unless you have a private photographer… which, as you can tell from these cell phone photos, I clearly do not. Eventually, the sugar magically transforms into a golden liquid.

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Step two: once the sugar is in a liquid state and is a “deep golden colour”, the heat is reduced and you add in the cream. The recipe warns you that this will create a scalding steam – I can attest that this is true. A little fleur de sel is added, and then you let the whole thing cook while giving it the occasional stir.

The recipe says to let the whole thing come to a boil and wait until all the hard sugar bits have dissolved before removing it from the heat. With the first batch I made, I got a little nervous – I was afraid of burning the caramel and ruining the whole thing. That batch turned out pretty good, but it was a little gritty as the sugar had not completely dissolved. I was more patient with the second batch, letting it all melt and boil a little longer. I managed to avoid burning the house down AND the sauce was much smoother. Success.

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That’s it. Easy, right? I let my caramel cool in the pot for a bit, then poured it into a glass jar. The recipe is supposed to keep in the fridge for up to 2 weeks (mine has been there a week and a half and so far, so good). While I would love to make these as gifts, it doesn’t seem like they’d do as well made far in advance and stored at room temp – so I guess I’ll have to hog it all to myself.

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Bobbette & Belle’s Fleur de Sel Caramels: From Chaos to Caramel

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I had the brilliant idea to make fleur de sel caramels from my Bobbette & Belle cookbook and to give them out at Christmas time.

This, despite my fear of candy thermometers and all things candy making.

I just love caramel, and I knew that deep down, I had what it takes to make delectable, chewy, soft caramels. And it turns out that I did – I made many incredible morsels of caramel that certainly held their own against the fancy schmancy ones that sell for like, $12 for 6 pieces. But the road to tasty caramels was not an easy one.


Here is the truth: this post does not have very many pictures of the actual baking process. There are three reasons why:

  • When I decided to make the recipe, Cedric wasn’t home and I didn’t realize that he had taken the camera – which, to be fair, is his camera – until I was already underway.
  • It was already dark out and the non-natural lighting in my kitchen is super harsh and makes for ugly pictures.
  • Most importantly, the process was so chaotic that even if I’d had the camera and the lighting had been natural and perfect, there’s no chance that I would have had the time (or non-sticky hands) to snap pictures.

So let me tell you the story of the fleur de sel caramels using mostly my words.


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While the Bobbette & Belle recipe did ultimately produce some fine caramels, the directions were a little off. Step one is to spray a 10-inch square baking pan with cooking spray and to line it with parchment. Now, I don’t have a 10-inch pan – but I do have two slightly smaller ones, so I prepped them both. Looking back, if you only used a single 10-inch square pan, you would end up with INSANELY thick caramels. Pro tip: use two pans.

The next step appears to be very simple: you mix sugar, cream, corn syrup, and butter (all my favourite superfoods) into a saucepan, let it boil, stir constantly, and let the whole thing heat to 248 – not 245, not 250 – degrees Fahrenheit. But here’s where Bobbette & Belle confused me a little: they say to use a medium saucepan.

I put the ingredients into my medium saucepan, but everything already almost came to the top of the pan. I knew that once the mixture was boiling, it would likely overflow – a bigger pot was needed.

I have two other pot options: a big old spaghetti pot and a blue Le Creuset dutch oven. The former was presently in the fridge holding some leftover chili (specifically, the Oh She Glows vegan chili – soooo good), so I transferred the ingredients from the medium saucepan to the blue Le Creuse pot.

I turned on the element, set up a candy thermometer, and grabbed my digital thermometer for back up, then let nature do its thing.

Eventually, the mixture started to bubble – my cue to start “stirring constantly”, as per the instructions. As I mixed, the contents of the pot (as I predicted) started to rise. And rise. And rise.

My thermometer wasn’t remotely close to 248 degrees – yet I was quickly running out of space in my pot. As it approached the lip of the pot, I realized that if I didn’t act VERY soon, the whole thing was going to overflow.

I now had a predicament. The medium saucepan would be too small – I needed the big spaghetti one in the fridge. But in order to use it, I would have to take it out of the fridge, toss the leftover chili, and wash and dry the pot. This would entail taking the currently boiling pot off the heat and taking a break from constant stirring. Surely pausing a recipe midway would not be a good thing.

But what choice did I have? Just as the mixture starting to bubble over (and smoke like crazy), I turned off the now-sticky element, moved the pot, and started the process of preparing the spaghetti pot.

Long story short, I poured about half of the contents of the blue pot into the spaghetti pot, temporarily dismantled the smoke detector, and set both of the pots up on clean elements. I now had to juggle stirring both pots while constantly checking the temperature of each to ensure I caught it at just the right time. The candy thermometer was reading much colder than the digital one, so I kept dipping the digital one in and out of the pots – which caused strings of sticky caramel to streak across my kitchen and my clothes.

The race was on to see which pot would reach 248 degrees first. I sincerely hoped they both wouldn’t hit the temperature at the same time because there was no way I could pour two pots of bubbling caramel into two pans at once. Luckily, the blue pot hit 248 just before the spaghetti pot. I abandoned the spaghetti pot momentarily, stirred in a bit of vanilla and salt into the blue pot, then poured its contents into the first prepared baking tin. I sprinkled some fleur de sel over top, then returned my attention to the spaghetti pot, which was rapidly creeping up on 248.

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I took this photo with my phone – you can see hints of the chaos happening in my kitchen.

Once both pans had been filled, my kitchen looked like a total, utter caramel-covered war zone. While the caramel set (it needs to be cooled for 2 to 3 hours), I scrubbed the kitchen back to its original state of cleanliness. At last, it was time to cut the caramel.

The slabs of caramel are transferred from baking pan to cutting board. This is actually pretty easy, as the Bobbette & Belle instructions tell you how to make a parchment cradle of sorts. The knife gets sprayed with a bit of non-stick spray (good caramel hack!), then the chopping begins.

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Another poor quality phone photo – but mmm.

I was relieved to feel my knife glide easily into the caramel – I hadn’t overcooked it, and the fact that it held together solidly meant that I likely hadn’t undercooked it, either. Success!

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Then, the tedious part: wrapping the caramels. I cut small squares of wax paper and, one by one, wrapped each individual piece. At first, I tried wrapping them kind of like a present, but then I switched to a salt-water-taffy-esque twisted wrap. This recipe makes about a hundred caramels – that’s a lot of wrapping.

When my weary joints had twisted the last caramel, I placed them into little boxes and stored the boxes in a sealed Ziploc freezer bag. I didn’t freeze them – I just left them at room temperature. The recipe states that they can be stored in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 3 weeks and, in my experience, that is spot on.

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I came. I caramelled. I conquered. The caramels were delicious and my recipients savoured each and every sweet-and-salty bite. But man, these were a beast to prepare. If you dare make them yourselves, be warned: you’re going to need a bigger pot.


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Bobbette & Belle’s Fleur de Sel Caramel Corn

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Making candy can be a little scary. I feel like I never use candy thermometers correctly – and candy is soooo sensitive to temperatures that being only a couple of degrees off can be the difference between delicious bonbons and a waste of ingredients (and money). It seems safer to just avoid it altogether.

I’ve been conveniently avoiding the Confections and Sweets chapter of Bobbette and Belle’s cookbook, but I’ve had my eye on a few recipes (including the Fleur de Sel Caramels, which I WILL make one day – a local baker sells her version at seasonal craft fairs and they are delicious but very expensive, so I need to learn how to DIY).

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Finally, I found the perfect excuse to dip into the chapter. I had a Halloween night with a few girlfriends (centered around the classic – and timeless, as we discovered – film, Hocus Pocus) and one of them had mentioned some tasty seasonal treats, including caramel corn.

I remembered that the Bobbette & Belle book had a recipe for caramel corn, so I offered to bring some. Bonus: the recipe doesn’t require a candy thermometer.

I’ve made poppycock before (which is caramel corn with mixed nuts – absolutely delectable), but never just straight caramel corn. I was pleased to find out that it’s actually very easy.

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The first step involves making 15 cups of popcorn. If you’re reading this, I assume you’re not the type to use microwave popcorn (please, please don’t). You don’t need a fancy popcorn maker to make popcorn. I make mine on the stove top with a regular pot. I put some oil in it along with four kernels, crank the heat to medium-high, and wait until those four kernels have popped. I then add the rest of the kernels (2/3 cup of kernels = 15 cups of popcorn), cover my pot with a screen top thing that my mom got me eons ago (thanks, mom!), and shake lightly. I don’t shake non-stop, but I do it pretty frequently to let the unpopped kernels fall to the bottom.

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This is what 15 cups of popcorn looks like.

Once the kernels are popped, it’s time to make the caramel. Easy peasy: you melt butter + brown sugar + corn syrup + vanilla, let it get nice and bubbly (no mixing!), then add some baking soda and fleur de sel. The book calls for a “Rounded 1/4 teaspoon baking soda” – I have no idea what is meant by rounded, so I just used a regular 1/4 teaspoon of baking soda. It also says “stir in the baking soda and fleur de sel and baking soda”, which amused me. An aside: the fleur de sel definitely has a presence in the final product. This is, after all, fleur de sel caramel corn, not regular caramel corn.

 

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Here is where I assumed the recipe would end; but, in fact, there is one final step. You spread the caramel-coated popcorn onto a pair of baking sheets at bake them for an hour at 275 degrees. After it has cooled, you get the most delicious popcorn, each pieces coated in a light caramel shell. I kept mine in a sealed tupperware style bowl and served it the next day, and it didn’t get stale at all.

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This caramel corn is superior to the stuff you get at Kernels. It’s really, really good – the recipe introduction says that they call it “crack corn” and their bakery, and I understand why. Caramel corn isn’t really filling in the way, say, cake is, so it’s easy to go back for “just one more handful” until there’s nothing left in the bowl.

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… after being baked.

This recipe is a keeper, folks.


I am a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for us to earn fees by linking to Amazon.com and affiliated sites.