Fall is finally, undoubtedly here! The leaves are starting to turn, the weather is jacket worthy (at least at night), and my wedding is a mere 18 days away. Apologies in advance if wedding talk begins to take over the blog or this space is a bit silent for the next few weeks. Yes, fall is finally here to stay. This means I can wear my boots all the time, deepen my love of all things pumpkin, and indulge in the seasonal foods that I only crave during this time of year, like caramel.
Don’t get me wrong, I love a good salted caramel sauce on ice cream and soft, chewy salted caramels as a treat, but caramel isn’t something I normally crave. Until the fall, that is. This weekend I found myself deep in some wedding tasks and all of a sudden, I needed caramel. I got my sugar and my saucepan and immediately started making some caramel sauce. At the end, I threw in some pumpkin spice on a whim because pumpkin spice makes everything better in my world. The result? A slightly salted, warm, spicy, silky caramel sauce that warrants being drizzled on just about everything.
This caramel sauce just screams fall and invokes feelings of sitting by a fire, cinnamon-spiked ciders, and warm, toasty jackets. It is fairly simple to make and all you need is patience, a decent saucepan, a watchful eye, and some sugar. The recipe I used is a bit different than my normal caramel sauce but it turned out to be a little more forgiving – less brushing down the side of the pan with water and burnt batches. The addition of pumpkin spice right at the end brings a whole new dimension to the caramel sauce and really makes it eat-from-the-jar-with-a-spoon worthy.
Pumpkin Spice Caramel
Makes about 2 cups
1 cup white, refined sugar*
2 cups water
3/4 cup soy milk or ¾ heavy cream (heavy cream is best, I happened to use soy milk because that’s all I had!) brought to room temperature
2 Tbsp. cold butter (NOTE: if you use heavy cream, only use 1 Tbsp. of butter)
¼ tsp. good quality sea salt
1 tsp. pumpkin spice
1 tsp. good quality vanilla extract
*Note: I don't know how other natural sugars may work (turbinado, sucanat) but I imagine the results would be less than stellar due to the shape and structure of the sugar crystals and the other contents of unrefined sugar.
1. Put water in a good sized saucepan (preferably with a heavy bottom). Add sugar to the center of the water and turn on the heat to medium.
2. Heat over medium heat until sugar dissolves. Do NOT stir. It’s tempting I know, don’t do it. If your pan is getting a hot spot, gently swirl the pan around.
3. Turn heat to high and bring to a boil until your mix turns a lovely amber color (you can go lighter or darker depending on your preference). Watch it closely near the end since it begins to color quickly. This should take about 15-20 minutes. Again, do NOT stir!
4. Once your caramel has colored, quickly add your milk/cream and butter. Stand back and be very careful since it is going to bubble up and steam quite a bit here.
5. Stir cream and butter into caramel using a whisk. Your caramel may ball up and be hard after the addition of the milk and butter. It’s okay! Just keep whisking.
6. Boil for another 3-5 minutes until it is slightly thickened. At this point you can stir gently with your whisk to test the thickness. It will thicken quite a bit upon cooling.
7. Once it has thickened, add in vanilla and pumpkin spice and whisk to combine.
8. Let cool before transferring to an airtight jar or container. It will keep in the fridge for about 2 weeks, if it lasts that long!