Salted Vanilla Bean Caramel Sauce
1 vanilla pod
1 cup heavy cream
5 Tbsp unsalted butter, cut into pieces (at Christmas, I use the fancy European-style butter)
2 tsp fleur de sel
1 1/2 cups sugar
1/4 cup light corn syrup
1/4 cup water
Use a knife and slit the vanilla pod in half along the length of the bean, stopping about 1/2 inch from the end (this way, the pod stays in tact for easy retrieval and disposal). Scrape each side of the pod with the knife and place the beans and pod in a small sauce pan. Add cream, butter, and fleur de sel to the sauce pan and warm until boiling. Turn off heat and set aside.
Boil sugar, corn syrup, and water in a 3- to 4-quart heavy saucepan, stirring until sugar is dissolved. Boil, without stirring but gently swirling pan, until mixture is a golden caramel.
Pluck vanilla pod from the cream mixture and carefully add the cream mixture to the caramel (mixture will bubble up) and simmer, stirring frequently, for 3 minutes. Pour into heat-safe glass measuring cup or dish (that can accommodate approx 3 cups). Let sit until cool. Pour into small glass jars and store in the fridge. Warm the sauce and use in dark hot chocolate, bread pudding, over ice cream and cheesecake, or on pancakes and french toast.
Pairs Well With
The rich, homemade sauce is perfect for desserts - and your holiday gift baskets.