For some reason, I got the urge to make caramel yesterday. Oddly, though, I don’t even like caramel. And, I’ve never made it. So, really, I’m surprised I’d ever have a craving for it. But, the craving was worth it. Trust me.
Plus…a friend let me try a little bit of her homemade spicy caramel sauce a few weeks ago…and I haven’t been able to get it off my mind.
Which, is too bad. Because ever since yesterday, after tasting my first spoonful, I’m getting a cavity a minute. I CAN’T STOP EATING IT!!!!!!!!!!!
So, proceed with caution. Sort of like the best chocolate cake recipe ever, you should only make this if you have self-control. Or, you should resign yourself to the fact that you don’t have self-control, and be okay with that. And, you might want your dentist on standby.
First: Go milk your goat. Don’t have one? Get one. It’s just better that way. Don’t plan to get one? I’m sure you can use grocery store goat’s milk…and grocery store cow’s milk, for that matter…so, don’t worry.
Second: Mix the sugar (I used organic sugar, it’s kind of light tan. But, you can use any kind of sugar) with the milk in a stainless steel pot. Turn the stove on. Low to medium heat. It’s best to err to the cooler side, because you don’t want to risk burning the caramel. On the other hand, if you keep it on low, you’ll be there all day. So, you decide. Stir it every so often.
I would have used 2 whole vanilla beans (and no vanilla extract), but I only had one, so I added 1/2 Tbsp vanilla extract. Cut the vanilla bean in half, lengthwise. I have no idea why the baking soda is 1.2 teaspoons. But, whatever. And, trying to mimic my friends spicy caramel, I picked a pepper.
I waited and stirred and waited and stirred on and off for A LONG TIME. Like, 45 minutes, or an hour or something. Then, once the milk finally started simmering, I poured in the dissolved baking soda. And, oooooooooooo!!!!!! It fizzled and sizzled and foamed! Kind of like a magic show!
After you finish enjoying the baking soda performance, stir in the vanilla extract and vanilla bean. Make cool designs.
Now, add the spice! I tried it with this one, lonely red peppa. Next time, I’ll add some other kinds of peppers. This gave the caramel a tiny bit of kick, but not the deep warmth that my friend’s had. The kind that warms up your mouth and your throat, but doesn’t burn. The kind that’s like putting an electric blanket full of warm golden milky caramel into your mouth. Not that I’ve ever had an electric blanket in my mouth, but I’m trying to get the point across that adding chiles adds WARMTH not killer spice.
So, don’t be scared. But, as the caramel cooks, keep tasting it every so often and when it reaches the warmth level that you want it, just take out the chile.
Then, DON’T do what I did. I figured, well, if it’s good in the caramel, the caramel must be good on it! So, I took a big, drippy bite of my serrano. WHHHTtthhhaaaaa! HOTTTTT!!!!!!!!!!! Do Not Do That. Trust me.
Getting a little tanner.
And, a little tanner.
And, approaching golden!
It’ll start thickening over the spatula.
When the caramel is thick enough for you, be finished. Breath a sigh of relief that you don’t have to stir anymore and pour it into a container.
And, as for the perfection part, it’s close to perfect. But, not quite. I need different chiles next time for the electric blanket effect. The serrano alone is more like a hot water bottle on one of your feet. And cold everywhere else.
Breathe. Take a deep breath in. Again, again, again. With your nose directly over the caramel. And, see those little black specks? Those are the little bits of heaven from the vanilla bean.
Have you ever cooked with a vanilla bean? I have not. Till now. And, those little specks sort of feel like tiny bells ringing in your mouth every time you crunch one. Amazing.
Now, what do you do with it?
I spread it on bread, eat it plain, stir it into milk, spread it on apples, spread it on cake, eat it plain, lick every smear off the spoon, and that’s all in just the last 24 hours.
And, to wrap this whole cooking experience up, I’ll warn you again: Keep Your Dentist On Call.
The last time I ate something as good as this, I was in college on a trip for 4 weeks. I ate it almost every day. I came home with FIVE cavities.
Don’t say I didn’t warn you…
– The Caramelaholic Goat Cheese Lady