Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Flavours Column: Salted Caramel

Image: Greta Kenyon

Two things I've come to understand and accept recently:
  1. food photography is ridiculously messy
  2. just because your food tastes good doesn't mean it automatically looks good.
Thankfully I had the pleasure of working with Shaye Woolford from On My Hand, who provided props and styling, and the lovely Greta Kenyon for this photo shoot. 

Their jobs are to make things look good and they are dab hands at it. They make it look easy. It's not. Especially when you're photographing caramel next to an apple orchard with bees. By the end of it I was basically covered in caramel, icing sugar, chocolate ganache, grass and a touch of cinnamon, as were all the props. It was great fun. 

Just so you know, making caramel at home is much easier than photographing it in an apple orchard. Here's this weeks recipe! x

Image: Greta Kenyon

Salted Caramel
Published in the Bay of Plenty Times, Wednesday 17th April 2013

Salted Caramel has been the flavour de jour for quite some time now. It’s stickability as a flavour is due to the fact that it’s downright delicious. When you add salt to sweet it creates an unexpected pop in your mouth that deepens flavours and rounds out sweetness. It’s all very clever really.

This caramel is what I used to flavour these mini cheesecakes.

It’s a ridiculously versatile, impressive dessert sauce. Not only does it work in cheesecakes, it can be poured over ice cream or puddings; swirled into whipped cream for a decadent dollop atop grilled fruit; and drizzled over crumbles or cakes. As the weather cools, simple baked apples served with this sauce become the ultimate in winter comfort.

Inspired by dessert genius David Lebovitz’ recipe I've made a few tweaks to make it my own. The trick is to get the sugar to a beautiful, deep bronze colour. 

220g white sugar
2 tablespoons golden syrup
1/3 cup cream
1 tablespoon butter, room temp
Squeeze of lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon Heilala vanilla extract
1/2 - 3/4 teaspoon coarse sea salt (I like Maldon)

Place the sugar and golden syrup into a saucepan and, without stirring, melt over a medium heat. You will start to smell the sugar caramelising. Once you see the sugar melting, gently stir with a wooden spoon. The sugar may look pebbly but keep going; it will melt down. Once all the sugar is melted continue cooking until it turns a rich, deep bronze colour and is a little smoky. Remove the saucepan from the heat and very carefully (watch for spitting, bubbling caramel!) pour in half the cream and stir to combine. You may need to put it back over the heat if the caramel seizes a little. Stir in the rest of the cream and add the butter, lemon juice, vanilla extract and salt to taste. If you’re not sure about the salt, start with a little then add more as you please. Pour into a heatproof container and cool. Keeps in the fridge for a week.

Weekly Tip: In this sauce, regular table salt won’t cut it. You really do need a good quality flaky sea salt. Regular table salt is too intense and will overwhelm the sauce. I speak from experience!

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