The thing I love about that Sarah Moulton caramel sauce recipe is that it gives you just enough for one standard-sized squeeze bottle, plus at least an extra tablespoon or so for….oh who the heck knows? Spreading over an apple slice that your daughter didn’t finish, dunking a banana in, or just scraping up on a rubber spatula that you can’t actually fit in your mouth, but of course you try anyway. Anyone care to guess which one I did?
I’m always impressed by the heat of the steam that comes off a saucepan of caramel, it is intense. Thus I try to angle by probe thermometer for minimum exposure. Remember that swirling your pan is important. You can’t really stir it since any implement you stick in will in there will a.) cool the caramel down a little and b.) just accumulate a thick coating that you won’t be able to get off very easily. But move the caramel you must to keep the hotter spots from burning before the rest can brown.
I tried Sarah’s technique of turning off the heat at 350 and letting the caramel cook itself the rest of the way, but it only heated up another eight degrees. Part of the problem may have been the pan: a fairly thin copper deal that was the only clean thing in the kitchen at the time. Copper is of course a great heat conductor (and by extension heat loser), so it may have given up its heat too quickly. Still I have a hard time seeing even the thickest cast iron pan carrying the caramel over a full 25 degrees. Which is of course why I like the thermometer method best. It tells me precisely, and since I’ll be pouring in a half cup of warm cream that’ll stop the cooking in a heartbeat, there’s no chance of overcooking it.
Again, caramel bubbles up ferociously once you add your cream, so be ready for it with a good tall pan. But once it’s settled down and your remaining ingredients are in, it’s as tame as a kitten. Get the bananas.