This Salty Caramel is parfait. It is an utterly perfect batch.
True caramel is nutty, buttery, with aromatic notes of butterscotch, maple, and coffee. The only way I know how to describe the flavor is emotional. It’s like getting hit with a love arrow. You know it when it’s right. It’s a pot of sugar toasting at my grandmother’s house to become a piece of candy melting on your tongue.
Salty Caramel is not an easy flavor to make. The sugar for our caramel is toasted slowly over fire and there is about a 5 second window to stop the cooking before the sugar burns too far. That balance is everything-—not enough caramelization and the ice cream tastes bland like saltwater taffy, too much and it tastes bitter and chemically. It can be dangerous, too. Adding cold cream to the hot caramel is like throwing ice water at Hades. The molten sugar mixes with and heats the cream on contact and spits it angrily back at you at 365 degrees.
I always say that our Salty Caramel is like seeing a live show—each batch is slightly unique. I have been making it since 1996. Without question, it’s the flavor that put my ice creams on the map. It’s a little more salty than American caramel, which is always salted a little bit, and even more than traditional French Salted Caramel—in the direction of Scandinavian licorice. You can’t synthesize this flavor in a lab (synthetic caramel flavoring tastes like a gas station latte), the only way to do it right is to do it the hard way. And it’s worth it, the flavor is one of a kind chemical change that happens when sugar hits heat, and when done correctly, is one of the finest flavor experiences in the world.
Because “salted” and “salty” caramel is everywhere now it’s easy to think that it is so ubiquitous that it has become blase. But that can’t be farther from the truth. It’s strangely everywhere and nowhere all at once. Most of the caramels on the market are flavorings, which is like going to view a Camille Pissarro and being shown a Thomas Kincaid in its place. When caramel is done right, it’s perfect. There aren’t many out there.
My favorite way to eat Salty Caramel is on a wafer cone. Of course, it is also great in a puddle of vin santo warmed with a little honey and a star of star anise, and extra whipped cream, or on a tall slice of chocolate cake.
This batch of Salty Caramel is a perfect specimen. Pop in and have a sample.