It all started with an innocent trip to the local dairy store, Sassy Cow. It was there that a sweet girl introduced me to the greatest ice cream I have ever tasted….their Salted Caramel ice cream is just to die for. If you find yourself within a 20 mile radius of this establishment…stop in and grab yourself a pint (or a gallon….I’m not here to judge).
Then a few months later, a dear friend had us gals over for dinner and she played a game of oneupmanship-not only did she have the famed salty ice cream, but she put it over warm from the oven chocolate cake. (It is friends like these you need to keep around forever)!
It seems salted caramel this and that keeps popping up all over the place…..some worthy of the title…some not so much. There needs to be that delicate balance of salty deliciousness along with that sweet buttery caramel. I decided that chocolate cake with salted caramel frosting sounded heavenly, so the boy and I set out to create our own recipe. I am sharing it all with you as it is just too good to keep to ourselves.
Let me preface these instructions by stating…PLEASE OBEY ALL WARNINGS! Trust me, everything I warn you of I have done. Save yourself heartache (and several pounds of butter) and follow the path to salted caramal nirvana.
OK first up, get a small metal pan (I discourage the use of nonstick) and into it put 1/2 cup sugar and 4 TBLSP of water. Then put on the stove top over medium heat.
At this point only stir slightly to encourage the sugar to dissolve. After that…looky no touchy! The solution will begin to boil and that is good. Just leave it alone…the heat and the sugar will do all the work on their own. DO NOT try to hurry this step up and crank up the heat…..trust me…you will be throwing it out and starting over. Patience dear friend….
Now, while that is going on the stove (keep 1/2 an eyeball on it) you can start whipping up the butter. Take 2 sticks of room temperature salted butter (DO NOT think you can save time and microwave it. No matter how careful you are, the middle will completely melt and the outside will be hard…and that just doesn’t work here) and beat that butter until it is soft and fluffy. Then add 1 cup of powdered sugar and 1/2 TBLSP of salt and beat that in as well. (start low on the salt…you can always add more!)
Right about now your sugar solution should be turning a lovely shade of amber. Go ahead a swirl it around (CAREFULLY!! This stuff will burn your skin right off!) Once it is a nice medium amber, turn off the stove and take the pan off the heat. Have your WOODEN spoon in hand (yes, only WOODEN will do…do not use metal!) Slowly pour in a 1/2 cup of half and half (or whipping cream…remember no judgement!). Now stir stir stir.(but remember it is friggin hot so be careful!) The sugar solution is going to bind together into a sticky glob. As long as it is soft, you are doin just fine. (if it completely hardened you are up *hit creek my friend and you will have to start over…and this time….keep the heat on medium….).
See what I mean? The sugar stuff is still sticky…not hard. Now, just let this sit for awhile. You can’t encorporate into the butter mixture until it has cooled to room temperature so just let it be. Every so often you can give it a stir as more of the glob melts into the caramel. (Yes, I said room temp again….don’t try to speed this up and put it in the fridge! You’ve come this far…don’t cut corners now!)
Once it has cooled, pour into the butter mixture. You will probably have a few chunky sugar bits in there. If you like to live on the wild side and have no regard for your dental work…go ahead and fish those out as they are pretty darn tasty.
Now beat that all together. What you now have is the best frosting you will taste e-v-e-r! My favorite chocolate cake recipe came from the back of a cocoa container…click here for the recipe. This frosting was made to be smeared liberally on cupcakes so go ahead and indulge…remember no judgement!