Last night was the second of two salted caramel classes with David Briggs of Xocolatl de David.  We tasted Flor de sal de Manzanillo fleur de sel, Bali Rama Pyramid Balinese sea salt, Rosemary Flake sea salt, and Iburi Jio Cherry smoked Japanese sea salt.  Fantastic, and fun.  At the previous class we tried a similar format, but tasted Pangasinan Star Philippine fleur de sel and Grigio di Cervia Italian sel gris, as well as the wild and unexplored crunchy wierdness that is Takesumi Bamboo, one of my favorite new salts.  Below is a re-posting of David’s recipe originally posted here in 2008.

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For the last month or so we have offered a class on the making of salted caramels at The Meadow.  Our friend and master confectioner David Briggs of at Xocolatl de David led us through the various stages of caramelization and saltiness.

Below is the Ultimate Salted Caramel Recipe as perfected by David Briggs of Xocolatl de David.

The format of the salted caramel class was the usual: Attendees (we had over 32 last night!) were given a glass of wine to help keep their palates lively as we moved through a somewhat rigorous tasting format.

  • Mark Bitterman gave the selmelier’s mini-lecture on the four types of sea salt currently used in the assorted salted caramels offered in the shop.
  • Halen Mon Gold oak smoked sea salt from Wales – oaky and warm and mellow with hefty filo dough like flakes
  • Iburi Jio Cherry cherrywood smoked deep sea salt form Japan – heady and bacony and silky at the same time
  • Amabito no Moshio seaweed salt from Japan – a round and mild mineral-rich salt with lots of savory brothy (umami) flavors.
  • Pangasinan Star fleur de sel from the Philippines – brambly and warm and delicately sweet with outsized yet delicate white crystals.
  • The David Briggs talked about how he formulates the salt-levels of his caramels as people tasted:
  • Unsalted burnt caramel cubes
  • Lightly salted caramel cubes (the light is Briggs’s term, as the man loves salt)
  • Fully salted caramel cubes (whoa Bessy!)
  • Then Dave demonstrated how to make a salted caramel sauce (note: Dave declines to go by the title of caramelier either because he thinks a caramelier fellow in France will be offended or because he worries it might constrain future projects involving bacon or ice cream—or maybe both).
  • We took a vote and let the guests choose which salts to put in the caramels based on their tasting.  Every class has been different.  This time the choices were Halen Mon Gold and Pangasinan Star.
  • Last, Dave served up home-made chocolate ice cream and guests were allowed to ladle out the salted caramel sauce (or sauces) of choice onto the ice cream.

Jittery, maybe a little buzzed, the crowd at the end of the evening was slow to drift off, doubtless uncertain as to whether dinner, bed, sea kayaking, or something else would be the best outlet for their energy.

Recipe for the Best Salted Caramel Sauce
The first step is to make invert sugar to prevent the sugar in the caramel from spontaneously crystallizing.

Salted Caramel Invert Sugar
3 C          Sugar
1.5 C       Water
1/4 t        Citic acid OR juice of 1/2 lemon
Put ingredients in a non reactive pot and bring to a boil.  Lower heat and simmer for 30 minutes.

Caramel Sauce
2 C  Sugar
1 oz  Invert Sugar
1.25 C   Cream, warm
1 oz   Butter
Fleur de sel

Put invert sugar and sugar in a wide high sided non reactive pot on high heat.  Every minute or so slowly mix in granulated sugar with some that is liquefied.  Eventually you will have a paste.  Warm Cream separately.
Continue to cook sugar until it begins to caramelize.  Using a candy thermometer monitor the temperature of the cooking sugar.  The classic caramel stage is around 330-350 degrees F.  You can cook it longer for a less sweet more bitter sauce.  Do not go above 390 F.

When your desired temperature is reached turn off the heat and slowly and very carefully add the warmed cream in small increments.  When the cream is fully incorporated, turn the heat on high and heat the caramel to 230 F.  This will go quite quickly.  Turn off heat and add the butter.  Stir until the butter has completely melted.  Add your desired amount of Fleur de sel or other sea salt.  Let cool.

It will store in the refrigerator for up to 4 months.