Yesterday, there was an island. It was 10 meters away and beautiful with gradated black sand and trees silhouetted against the hazy purple sky. I wanted to go to that island so badly, a poor decision was made in haste and I fell off a slippery rock. It’s harder to bake now hopping on one good leg, and the 15-minute walk to purchase ingredients like 3kg bags of sugar and 2kg blocks of butter is dauntingly difficult. Some people find caramel making scary, I am not one of them. Trust you nose and eyes and use a light bottomed pan. Sugar’s cheap, and any mistakes can be easily melted off with a cup of boiling water and a good stir. Conquer caramel, and this little joy will be yours.
I was all excited to make macarons today… Then realised I didn’t age any egg whites. 4 of the tiniest eggs there ever was were cracked, separated, and are now undergoing counselling. The whites wait their turn in a bowl and the yolks get covered in water to go int the fridge. Unlike most recipes which fill the macarons with salted butter caramel sauce, which is rather sticky, Pierre Herme’s recipe calls for the cooled caramel sauce to be blended into butter, creating a delicate cream that’s much lighter. It’s sex in a bowl. It’s salted butter caramel. Say it with me. Salted. Butter. Caramel. Why are you still here? Go make this. You can even skip the macarons and eat it straight out of the bowl.
Salted Caramel Cream
Adapted from Pierre Herme
1650g Heavy Cream
15g Salted Butter + 75g Softened Salted Butter
1/4 tsp fine sea salt
Add about 50g of sugar to a saucepan, let this melt then add another 50g sugar and let this melt. Continue three times until all 100g of sugar has been incorporated and melted. (I forgot this step and dumped in all 100g, there were some lumps that didn’t melt.)
Let the syrup caramelise, swirling the pan occasionally, until it has turned a very dark amber. It should smell just on the edge of being burnt. Remove from the heat and add the salt, 15g butter and the cream, the mixture will hiss and splatter. Don’t worry about lumps, they will melt in the next stage.
Put the pan back on the heat and cook until it reaches 108C on a candy thermometer. (After 10 minutes, my candy thermometer got stuck at 105C for about 5 minutes so I took it off the flame.) Stick the whole thing in the freezer and stir every few minutes until mixture is cool enough not to melt butter.
In a medium bowl, beat the remaining butter for 8 to 10 minutes (in our weather, 5 minutes) and then incorporate the caramel in 2 additions. At this point, I pressed plastic wrap on the surface and left it in the fridge.