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Salted Caramel Sauce (Caramel au beurre salé)

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Easy recipe for salted caramel sauce using the best method by French food scientist, Raphaël Haumont. Salt is a flavour enhancer which makes this sweet sauce deliciously addictive. Served warm, it’s the best topping on all sorts of classic desserts.

Pouring caramel

Who Invented the Salted Caramel?

Fans of salted caramel have Henri Le Roux to thank. He created the CBS® (Caramel au Beurre Salé) in 1977 in Quiberon, the location of his first chocolate shop in Brittany (Bretagne). Brittany is The French region where salted butter is added to most local specialities. In fact, salted butter is so important there, that last year we even spotted graffiti saying “Together Against Unsalted Butter!”

Since Henri Le Roux invented it, salted caramel has been world famous, so he wisely registered it in 1981.

So, who would have known that salted caramel is a recent discovery? Now Henri Le Roux is all around France and appreciated as one of the top chocolate shops in Paris, known as Caramélier.

butter in a saucepan

What is Salted Caramel Made Of?

Caramel is made out of three ingredients: sugar, salted butter and cream.

The French always use whipping or heavy cream (30% fat), not condensed milk. In this recipe, I prefer to use unsalted butter (due to varying qualities around the World which dose the salt differently). That way the salt is added separately and can be perfectly dosed.

What’s the difference between caramel and salted caramel?

It’s simple: salted caramel is made with either salted butter or with actual added salt. Speaking of which, please also use good quality butter. In this recipe I prefer to use good unsalted butter and dose the salt by adding separately at the end of cooking.

Why do we Add Salt to Caramel?

What is the point of salted caramel? It’s a flavour enhancer and, as long as good quality is used, it works a treat. For the best type of salt, use French fleur de sel. Can’t find French flower salt? Then Maldon or Celtic sea salt are also good.

Does it taste salty?

Well, there’s a good dose of salt in the caramel sauce. So, as the caramel is particularly sweet, the salt just takes on an intriguingly addictive flavour to it. The resulting taste is simply sublime. It’s sweet with salty undertones.

pouring runny caramel sauce

How to Make a Wet Caramel

Salted caramel sauce is reputed to be quite difficult to make as it’s quite finicky cooking the caramel first.

To give you an idea of making a wet caramel, first see my video and recipe for Crème Caramel or Flan.

Foolproof Easy Salted Caramel Recipe – Using Science!

This recipe is the easiest method for making salted caramel sauce. The sauce’s flavour is round and even creamier than the traditional way of caramelising the sugar first then adding the butter and cream afterwards.

This recipe method comes from French food scientist, Raphaël Haumont.  I had the fortune of meeting him on the jury at the previous Amateur Pastry Competition run by Christophe and Julie Roussel in La Baule – he works with Thierry Marx and has even made Thomas Pesquet’s favourite French classic food to be enjoyed in Space! To give you an idea of how Raphaël beautifully explains making caramel, see his video of Allo Docteur for La Magazine de la Santé (it’s in French).

By cooking the butter and sugar slowly together to create a caramel, it creates the Maillard reaction – whereby proteins in the butter react with the sugar molecules. If you love science and food, I recommend reading his fabulous books. Raphaël further explains caramelisation in his book, Les Couleurs de la Cuisine.

How to Make Salted Caramel Sauce

heating butter and sugar together

  • First heat the butter and sugar together, stirring constantly.
  • When the butter melts and sugar dissolves completely, the mixture begins to mousse.
  • Keep stirring as the mousse bubbles away until it starts to change colour and caramelise.

butter and sugar moussing up in a saucepan

  • As soon as it turns a deep golden caramel colour, add the cream (I like to slightly warm the cream first but it’s not crucial).
  • Continue stirring until the sauce blends well together and add the flower salt (fleur de sel).

making caramel sauce

How Do You Thicken It?

This salted caramel sauce naturally thickens as it cools and when stored in the fridge. However, if you think that your sauce is a bit too runny, just simmer for a further 5-10 minutes.

pouring caramel into 2 pots

What Goes with Salted Caramel?

Salted caramel sauce is best served warm. So, when ready to serve, spoon into a small pouring jug and reheat. Either reheat gently for a few seconds in the microwave or over a gentle heat for a few minutes in a saucepan. It goes so well with most seasonal winter desserts such as the following, including chocolate desserts:

Spooning caramel sauce on apple tart

How Long Does the Sauce Last?

Not only is it a handy sauce for all sorts of desserts, the bonus is that this salted caramel keeps for 3 weeks or up to a month if sealed well in the refrigerator. However, if truth be told, it doesn’t stay for long in our house.

It’s not just handy keeping in the fridge as a sauce – but if you have a batch already made, it’s so much quicker to make this Tarte Tatin.

pot of salted caramel sauce with an apple tart

Different Salted Caramel Flavours

Add your own touch of additional flavours to the caramel, to accompany or personalise your desserts. Add at the end of cooking, after adding the cream once the sauce comes together. Here are a few ideas:

  • Vanilla: scrape out the seeds of a vanilla bean/pod or 1/4 tsp of vanilla powder or good quality extract;
  • Coffee: Add a tablespoon of granulated coffee to the caramel for a perfumed coffee caramel;
  • Citrus: Add the zest of an orange for extra zing – or excellent with limes, kumquats or lemon.
pot of salted caramel sauce with an apple tart
5 from 2 votes

Salted Caramel Sauce

Author: Jill Colonna
Prep Time5 mins
Cook Time20 mins
Total Time25 mins
Course : Condiments
Cuisine : French
Keyword : salted caramel sauce
Servings : 8 people
Calories : 199kcal

Description

Best foolproof recipe for salted caramel sauce using a scientific method by food scientist, Raphaël Haumont. Served warm, it's a great topping on all sorts of classic French chocolate, apple and pear desserts and on crêpes, ice cream, waffles, profiteroles plus rice pudding.

Ingredients

  • 140 g (5oz/¾ cup) granulated sugar
  • 75 g (3oz/1/3 cup) unsalted butter good quality
  • 150 g (5.5oz/¾ cup) whipping cream 30% fat (crème fleurette) warmed
  • 1/2 tsp 'fleur de sel' salt (or Maldon, Celtic sea salt)

Instructions

  • Weigh both the butter (chop up roughly) and sugar directly into a heavy-bottomed saucepan.
    Weigh the cream in another pan, heat gently and set aside. Alternatively, heat in a glass in the microwave for 30 seconds (do not boil).
  • Using a wooden spoon, stir both the butter and sugar constantly over a medium heat until the butter has melted and the sugar dissolves.  The mixture should start to foam and bubble gently. Keep stirring until they turn a more golden, caramel colour - it should also start to smell like caramel.
    This should take about 10 minutes maximum.
  • As soon as the butter/sugar are a nice deep golden/straw caramel colour (don't wait until it's amber, otherwise the sauce will be bitter), add the warm cream, stirring constantly. Turn down the heat, keep stirring until thickened and add the salt. After about 5 minutes pour directly into a sauce jug or into sterilised jam jars. Leave to cool then seal.

Notes

Consistency: The sauce will thicken as it cools and will harden when stored in the fridge. When ready to serve, heat for a few seconds in the microwave.
If you like your caramel sauce more runny, add more cream.
To thicken the sauce even more, reduce by simmering for another 5-10 minutes.
Butter: I use unsalted butter in this recipe as good quality salted butter can be difficult to find outside of France. If you do have access to quality salted butter from Normandy or Brittany, then use it and omit the extra salt.
How Long Can the Sauce Keep? The caramel can last for 3 weeks or up to a month if stored in a sterilised sealed jar in the fridge.
Method of Cooking: This alternative approach to cooking the salted caramel sauce is thanks to food scientist, Raphaël Haumont. However, if you prefer to use the classic method, then first make a caramel by stirring the sugar with a tablespoon of water in a pan.  Over a medium heat without stirring, leave until a caramel forms (about 10 minutes) then as soon as a golden caramel forms, lower the heat and add the butter then the warmed cream.
Measures: Please note that all my recipes are best made using digital kitchen scales in precise metric grams. Both ounces (and cups) are given as a guide. 

This post was first published 23 February 2011 but is now completely updated with more explicit step-by-step instructions, new images and a different method of initially cooking the sugar and butter together.

 

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23 responses to “Salted Caramel Sauce (Caramel au beurre salé)”

  1. 5 stars
    Incredibly delicious and so versatile
    Don’t know of anyone who does not LOVE it
    Thank you for the post !

    • Versatile it certainly is, Pascal. I think it goes with anything sweet, really! Thanks for popping in.

  2. Gingerbread Apple Caramel Trifles - Mad about Macarons - Teatime in Paris says:

    […] in apple jelly topped with buttered, spiced apples and dribbled over with a generous amount of salted caramel sauce then a final flourish of lightly whipped cream. My girls preferred it plain but I have to admit, […]

  3. […] I love making batches of warmed salted caramel sauce to pour on crêpes, cakes, ice cream, meringues and all sorts of creamy and apple desserts, there […]

  4. Apple Crumble – A Scottish French Alliance | Mad about Macarons! Le Teatime Blog in Paris says:

    […] a simple scoosh of Chantilly cream – and why not decorate the plate with a spooned flash of salted caramel sauce and top with an edible […]

  5. Dark Chocolate Lava Cakes with Runny Hearts | Mad about Macarons! Le Teatime Blog in Paris says:

    […] For a special festive touch, serve with a dollop of whipped cream, vanilla ice cream, or simply some fresh raspberries or slices of mango.  They’re also delicious served with homemade chestnut and vanilla ice cream or salted caramel sauce. […]

  6. Confiture de Lait recipe and how to store vanilla beans or pods | Mad about Macarons! Le blog in Paris says:

    […] de lait (literally, “milk jam” – or more widely known as dulce de leche). Like salted caramel, it’s more of a perfect winter […]

  7. this is truly as you said: a life saver on any plain dessert! and much to the delight of conventional taste!

  8. Has been my pleasurable downfall all of 2011, glad to see others succumbIng, off to the fridge now…..

  9. My husband loves caramel I have to try the recipe. It is so trendy now caramel and salt….yummy, Looks so delicious. Thanks for sharing:)

  10. This caramel sauce would be wonderful drizzled on brownies, too, the possibilities are endless. I have to make this, soon.

  11. Oh Jill this looks so very fantastic. I don’t know if it requires anything other then a spoon to eat it with. However a nice bowl of vanilla bean ice cream would be pretty tasty.
    It is days like today, when I see this recipe, that I know why I am always all over your blog.

  12. Yum! Actually promised my husband to make salted caramel hot chocolate, so I would definitely use your recipe!

  13. See it’s stuff like this that makes me stalk you. So fabulous! I plan on covering everything in caramel sauce. Look out world.

  14. Jill…I don’t need to drizzle this over anything. I just need a spoon!!! Caramel sauce is a basic necessity for me. And this looks exceptional! A must have in my fridge at all times! : )

  15. I will have to be strong and stay as far away from this as I can. Caramel is my chocolate. It beckons to me if it is anywhere near. This looks amazing.

  16. Jill-with all these delicious sauces, I am going to think my desserts are naked without them! This is a great one to have on hand for the holidays-yum!

  17. I go gaga for salted caramel. When I read the passionfruit caramel option I just about drooled on the keyboard. Oh. My. Goodness. What a delicious post!

  18. Oh wow. Major craving alarm! I love salted caramel, and I actually have never had it in sauce form. I think I’d douse almost anything in this 🙂

  19. So delicious. I wish I could have a bite. Thanks for sharing the recipe with us!

  20. Oh yum! One of my favourite dessert sauces, so versatile with anything from apples to ice-cream. Love the long shelf life too, although it wouldn’t last a week in my fridge!

  21. Looking at the photo, I can imagine how tasty that sauce was..Thanks for sharing dear…

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