Taking It Up a Notch – Smoked Salted Caramel Sauce

Here in the Tin Pot kitchen we’re obsessed with ice cream.  On any given day,  you can find us making ice cream bases, churning those bases into ice cream or packing ice cream into containers…intermittently tasting copious amounts of it.  But that’s not all we do.  We also make all the baked goodies that go into the ice cream and the sauces that top it.  And speaking of sauces, one of our favorites is deeply rich and satisfying salted caramel sauce…which when made with smoked salt just bumps it up to another notch of crazy-goodness.

Dark Caramel

In our Tin Pot kitchen we’ve got all sorts of heavy duty pots, pans and fancy schmancy equipment.  But, you don’t need all that to make beautiful, wonderful, delicious caramel sauce.  It’s just as easy to make it at home.  In fact, I spent this past Saturday afternoon making this caramel sauce in my very own kitchen…

Caramel Ingredients

The process to make caramel isn’t hard, and the end result is completely worth it.  There are two methods of making caramel:  the dry method or the wet method.  I prefer the dry method because it’s a little faster for me.  Start with a sturdy dry pan and about a few cups of sugar (the wet method includes water as well).  You can also add a little pinch of cream of tartar to prevent crystallization.  Start with just a little of the sugar in the hot pan and add more as it starts to melt – it’s important to stir it around the pan so it melts evenly.  There may be some clumps of sugar – but that’s no big deal.  Just keep that sugar moving!  Once it is all melted, the sugar will start to thicken.  The increased viscosity almost makes it seem creamy.

Once it reaches a deeply dark amber color and just starts to smoke, pour in some warmed cream — I use about three-quarters as much cream as I do sugar to get a nice thick and pourable caramel sauce.  You can adjust the ooey gooey thickness of your caramel by adding more or less cream to the sugar.  Be careful because the sugar will bubble and spurt when the cream is added!

Bubbling Caramel

Finish the caramel by adding a few pats of butter, a tablespoon or so of pure vanilla extract and a couple teaspoons of smoked salt.  If you don’t have that on hand, just use kosher salt.   And viola, you’ve done it:  smoked salted caramel sauce – the perfect addition to a scoop of Tin Pot ice cream!