Friday, April 11, 2008

April 11: Salted Caramel Coulis

A lot of the current hot food trends are a little beyond me. Sous-vide? Okay, if you insist, but it seems fussy to me. Squid ink emulsion? No thanks. "Beak-to-tail" eating? You know, I'm a quarter Dutch, I'm not a big believer in throwing things away, but I'm no Anthony Bourdain.

One that I get, though, is salted caramel. All of the nuances of caramel, the toasty notes, the floral undertones, are all cued up by the delicate brine of French sea salt. Salt has this effect on food of rounding out the flavors, accentuating things you wouldn't taste without the salt. If you don't believe me, eat your French fries without salt.

Caramel is about texture, but salted caramel is about nuance. This sauce would be pure joy over pecan praline ice cream, or a slice of apple pie, or, as Bon Appetit suggests, a toasty dessert waffle.

Be a good foodie and seek out real fleur de sel or French sea salt for this. There are some mail order sources; I would start with (althought I haven't looked there for it).

Salted Caramel Coulis

1/2 cup sugar
1/4 cup water
1/2 cup whipping cream
3 1/2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1/4 teaspoon fleur de sel

Combine sugar and 1/4 cup water in heavy medium saucepan. Stir over medium-low heat until sugar dissolves. Increase heat and boil without stirring until syrup is dark amber, occasionally brushing down sides with wet pastry brush and swirling pan, about 10 minutes. Add heavy cream (mixture will bubble vigorously). Stir over low heat until any caramel bits dissolve. Remove from heat. Stir in unsalted butter and fleur de sel. Transfer caramel to small pitcher or bowl. Cool.

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