2008 was The Year of Salted Caramel. Can you believe that it is over a decade ago since Starbucks started selling their Salted Caramel Hot Chocolate? Starbucks being the yardstick for when a trend has truly made it to the big-time, of course.
Yet by 2008, Salted Caramel was already over thirty years old.
It all began in 1977. Henri Le Roux, French chocolatier and son to the guy who prepared the dessert for Franklin Roosevelt on his 1933 election night, had finished his apprenticeship at the family business, graduated from the COBA institute (the seminal school for chocolaterie) and with his new wife moved to her family town in Brittany: the home of salted butter. You can see where this is going, can’t you?
Henri’s chocolate shop was one amongst many, all fighting for their little piece of Brittany, all desperate to make their shop better than the rest. Henri took it upon himself to create a new product and in doing so he wanted to grandstand the region’s salted butter.
Three months later, he’d created a salted butter caramel with crushed nuts. In the first year he sold 399 kilos of the stuff. In the second, 700kg. In 1980 it won ‘Best Sweet in France’ by the Salon international de la confiserie in Paris. And the rest is history…
Except it wasn’t, because it took another ten years before it was embraced by chefs and patissierres, featuring on Michelin-starred menus in high-end eateries. In the 1990’s, Pierre Herme invented the Salted Caramel Macaron. And Salted Caramel decided to pitch up amongst the crème-de-la-crème of the culinary world and chill out there for a bit.
Naturally, it took a while for the trend to filter down to us muggles. But in 2008, when we’d decided that the sugar and salt thing was not so crazy after all, in fact – that it was pretty damn delicious, the whole salted caramel jamboree went boom. It was about that time I got on the Salted Caramel train and I’ve been riding it ever since.
RECIPE: Salted Caramel Syrup
SOURCE: Retro Housewife Goes Green
NOTES: This is one of those recipes where you have to be both brave and cautious. Brave, because you want to push the boiling sugar right to the edge so that you’re left with gorgeous dark caramel. Cautious, because a second too long and you’re left with burnt sugar. If your bravery bone is playing up today, then err on the side of caution. You’ll still be rewarded with a great syrup for your coffee.
FLAVOUR PROFILE: Dark caramel with an edge of salt.
GOES GREAT WITH: It’s wonderful in coffee. It’s extra-special in hot chocolate. It’s naughty on ice-cream.
- 225g BROWN SUGAR
- 400ml WATER, divided into two glasses containing 200ml each
- 1 tsp VANILLA EXTRACT
- 1/2 tsp SEA SALT
- In a saucepan combine the SUGAR and one glass of WATER (200ml). On a medium heat, stir until the sugar has dissolved.
- Keep stirring occasionally until the mixture comes to the boil.
- Then stop stirring and start watching. You’re waiting for the mixture to turn an amber colour. Be wary, as it can burn in a second.
- When an amber colour is reached, take the pan off the heat source. Very gently pour in the second cup of WATER. Be careful as the mixture can splatter.
- Stir in the vanilla and salt.
- Leave to cool before decanting into a glass bottle. Use within two months.