Monday, October 31, 2011

Kick-butt sea salt caramel sauce

Although all the recipes on this blog work well, or I wouldn’t be writing about them, occasionally I make something that I could imagine eating in the finest restaurants.
   The sea salt caramel sauce for Lauren Chattman’s Pear Cake with Sea Salt Caramel Sauce (click for the recipe), is just such a kick-butt kitchen creation.
   My husband and I agreed the sauce was good enough that it could adorn desserts in the best eateries. The sea salt, or fleur de sel, added an unusual and welcome twist.
   It certainly is addictive, and begged to be eaten by the spoonful on its own or draped lovingly over a scoop of ice cream.
   Mind you, the pear cake of the recipe isn’t too shabby, either.
   While the sea salt in the caramel sauce of the recipe gives it a new edge, the pear cake gives the whole dessert an old-fashioned feel, especially if broken up into pieces and served in bowls with the sauce drizzled on top.
   Both the cake and sauce were easy to make.
   The recipe calls for an Anjou pear, but I think any type of pear will work. I toasted the walnuts in a skillet on the stovetop, tossing them over medium heat until they started to brown slightly.
   Fleur de sel can be found in the spice section of many large supermarkets, or in gourmet foods stores.
   For the cake, butter and sugar are combined until fluffy, then three eggs are beaten in one at a time. After pear or regular brandy is stirred in, a mixture of flour, cinnamon, baking powder and salt is added to the wet ingredients alternating with milk. Chopped pear, raisins, and toasted chopped walnuts are stirred in. The cake is baked in a nine-inch round cake pan for 45 to 50 minutes, then put out on a wire rack to cool completely.
   The sauce is made by bringing sugar and water to a bowl in a small saucepan (stir to dissolve the sugar into the water.) The mixture continues to boil until it turns a light amber color. (I found this took about four minutes.)
   When the syrup is an amber color, heavy cream (I used whipping cream) is stirred in. After the bubbling subsides, remove the pot from the heat (I let the initial large foaming action subside, then stirred it while it bubbled for about 30 seconds more), and stirred in butter and sea salt until the butter is melted.
   The cake is served with the sauce on the side. The cake can be stored in a cake saver or wrapped in plastic wrap at room temperature, while the caramel sauce can be stored in the fridge and warmed in the microwave as needed.

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