It took a couple of tries, but I think I’ve got it figured out. Since my baking class, I’ve wanted to try my own caramel sauce. Now that Thanksgiving has passed and I’ve allowed myself to get in the Christmas spirit, I wanted something a more…exciting than plain old caramel. I wanted something to mirror the season; a dessert to share with family and friends. This was my idea.
Gingerbread Caramel Sauce
This recipe began with a spiced cream and a bit of molasses. The spice was nice, but didn’t shine through the finished product as well as I thought it would. It was delicious, but it wasn’t what I hoped it would be. As I was lying in bed on Sunday night and thinking about this recipe, I was unhappy. I had a certain taste in mind, but I hadn’t yet achieved it and it was bothering me. I played around with a few scenarios in my head until the solution hit me. I only needed more time to test out my theory. The end product was exactly what I had hoped for: A noticeable taste of ginger, but the spice was mellowed by the rich caramel, and a hint of molasses that transformed the finished sauce into liquid gingerbread. Now that I’ve nailed down the taste I wanted, there is still some tweaking required to make the recipe fool-proof. With that in mind, I have a few ideas that I’ll share at the end of the instructions. The recipe I’m sharing below does work, though it requires a bit more attention to keep it from crystallizing. The suggestions I’ll list have not been tested, so if you do try them, please let me know how it turned out!
1 cup granulated sugar
4 oz fresh ginger
3 cups water
Caramel: 1/2 cup ginger syrup
2 cups granulated sugar
1 pint (2 cups) heavy cream
1/2 tbsp unsulphered molasses
The recipe for ginger syrup will make roughly 3x more syrup than you need for the caramel. This is done intentionally. I messed up the first batch and my sugar crystallized and I needed more ginger syrup to do it over again. Never go without back up! You may do it perfectly the first time and not need it. If that’s the case, it goes really well with gin. To make the ginger syrup, cut the ginger into disks, then into matchsticks. Don’t worry about peeling. Combine the ginger with the sugar and water in a heavy-bottom saucepan and simmer over medium-high heat for about an hour, or until the volume has reduced by half. Strain the syrup through a fine-meshed sieve and discard the ginger. This can be done ahead of time and the syrup can be stored in the fridge for about a week. To make the caramel, combine the ginger syrup and sugar in a 4-qt, heavy-bottomed, non-reactionary (stainless steel) sauce pot. BEFORE you begin to heat the sugar, use a pastry brush to wipe the sides of the pot down with water to clean off the sugar granules that stick to the sides as you mix. Missing this step was my mistake the first time around. Because I used the ginger syrup instead of water, the granulated sugar stuck to the pot easily and created seed crystals that ruined the first batch. Heat the sugar and ginger syrup over med-high heat until the sugar turns a dark, golden color. Do not stir. If you see any rogue sugar crystals, vanquish them with water and a pastry brush. Just remember that the more you water it down, the longer the sugar will take to caramelize, so don’t overdo it! Once the sugar has darkened, remove the pot from the heat and and slowly add the cream. Let it bubble for a little bit before you whisk it. If you try to whisk it right away, you’ll risk spattering and burns. Slowly whisk in the rest of the cream, allowing it to bubble a bit between additions. Once you’ve whisked in all of the cream, you can let it sit and cool, or pour it directly into a pre-heated, clean, glass container. My idea to make the process a bit easier (and a little more difficult for the sugar crystals to stick to the side of the pan) is to make a strong ginger tea rather than a syrup. This way, you get the noticeable ginger taste, without the stickiness of the syrup at the beginning. If you were to do so, up the added sugar to 2.5 cups, rather than just 2.
That’s all for this week. Next week I’ll be in Florida to visit my family for Christmas!
Because I’ll be out of town and away from my kitchen, I do not plan to post my regular Monday updates over the holidays. If I can gather enough pictures from class and of holiday food, you may see random updates at other times during the weeks ahead. If you don’t hear from me before then, I’ll see you all after the New Year!