Damson Gin

Home-made Damson Gin

Home-made Damson Gin liqueur is probably my favourite of all the flavoured gins that I make. The sharp sweet-sour fruit produces a liqueur with a brilliant punch of flavour. It is also a beautiful ruby red colour. If you make it in September when damsons are in season, you can enjoy drinking it at Christmas and New Year!

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Why make your own flavoured gin?

It is extremely easy to make your own flavoured gin. You just add the fruit or other flavourings to the alcohol, add some sugar and leave it for a few months to transform into a delicious liqueur. Making your own also allows you to experiment with flavours and you know exactly what went into it.

There are lots of flavoured gin liqueurs available in the shops now. Many of them are delicious but they are often sold at premium prices. I find making my own very satisfying as you get a premium product at a low price. It is also a great way of using an over-supply of seasonal produce. Flavoured gins also keep for a very long time so if you make a batch in late summer or autumn, you can be sipping it all through the winter.

In praise of damsons

Damsons are small, dark purple fruit which have a strong sour flavour. Their sourness prevents them being eaten raw. However, they are excellent in a range of cooked dishes such as jams and preserves or fruit pies when their sourness is balanced by sugar.

This autumn I have been exploring the wonderful world of home-made gin.  Inspired by the Rhubarb Gin and Elderflower Gin  that I made in the spring, I started to think about which autumn fruits might also make a good flavoured gin. 

Having made an excellent Blackberry Gin and Plum Gin in August, I started  to wonder if there are any other seasonal fruit that I could use to make flavoured gin. In my local greengrocer, I spotted some damsons – small, dark purple sour plums which cannot be eaten raw but need to be cooked (with sugar) to bring out their flavour.  I hadn’t seen them for years but they immediately brought back memories as my mother had a prolific damson tree in her garden.  It occurred to me that they would make a good gin flavouring.

If you can’t find damsons, and they can be hard to source, you can make a great Plum Gin instead. However, if you do see them in a shop or market when they are in season in September, they are worth buying as they are great in jams and fruit pies as well as gin.

What you need to know about making Damson Gin

  • You can use any kind of gin in this recipe. I generally use a mid-range supermarket brand. You don’t want to use a really top-class gin – better just to drink that with some tonic – but on the other hand you don’t want to use something that tastes like lighter fluid! If you don’t have any gin available, you can substitute vodka. You just need an alcohol base that will absorb all the delicious fruity flavour of the damsons.
  • You need to allow four weeks for the flavour of the damsons to transfer into the liquid. However, you can leave them in for up to two months. The longer the damsons remain in the alcohol, the more intense the final flavour. Once the fruit is removed, the gin will last for at least a year.
  • I prefer to drink this gin liqueur on its own with no mixers. However, you can use it as an ingredient in cocktails. I have some recipes for Rhubarb Gin Cocktails where damson gin could be substituted for the rhubarb gin.

Other home-made gin

I love making fruit-flavoured gin and have lots of gin recipes. It is the perfect way to use seasonal fruit and flowers, at a time when there is often an over-supply, and preserve the wonderful flavour to enjoy later in the year. Some of my favourites are Blackberry GinRhubarb GinElderflower Gin and Plum Gin.

Loved this recipe? Checkout the Recipe Index or have a look at some of my other drink recipes.

Home-made Damson Gin liqueur recipe

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Damson Gin

  • Author: Tastebotanical
  • Prep Time: 15
  • Total Time: 15
  • Yield: 500 ml 1x
  • Category: Gin
  • Cuisine: English

Description

This home-made Damson Gin liqueur is so easy to make and tastes delicious.   Its ruby red colour and sweet-sour flavour makes it the perfect winter drink!


Scale

Ingredients

  • 500 g  (1 lb) fresh damsons
  • 250 g (8 oz) caster sugar
  • 500 ml (1 pint) gin

Instructions

  1. Wash the damsons.  Prick them with a fork and then cut them in half without removing the stones.
  2. Place the damsons in a sterilised jar.   
  3. Add the sugar and gin and shake to mix together.    The gin  must cover the top of the damsons.
  4. Put the lid on the jar. 
  5. Keep it in a cool, dark place for four weeks. 
  6. At the end of that time, the gin is ready to drink!    Strain the gin into a sterilised bottle through a muslin cloth held in a funnel and discard the fruit.

Notes

You can sterilise your jar by washing it in warm, soapy water, rinsing well and then drying off for 15 minutes in an oven set at 140C/120C fan/gas 1.       

Although it only takes 15 minutes preparation time, you will need to allow four weeks to allow the flavour to develop before you drink the gin

Keywords: damsons, gin

This recipe has been shared on #CookBlogShare with Apply to Face Blog and #FiestaFriday with Fiesta Friday and  Jhuls @ The Not So Creative Cook

Loved this recipe? Checkout the Recipe Index.

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Plum Crumble

Plum Crumble with Star Anise

The flavour of this Plum Crumble is enhanced with star anise, and vanilla. The juicy fresh plums cook gently with the spices and a little added sugar. They are then topped with a crisp and buttery crumble topping. The result is a sweet, fruity and gently spiced dessert. It is the perfect comfort food on a cold day. I love to eat it with a drizzle of double cream but you can also eat it with custard, which is probably more traditional, or with a good vanilla ice cream.

Plum Crumble

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Crumbles, or crisps as they are known in North America, are the perfect starting point for classic desserts and dessert-making in general. They are very quick and easy to make, can be produced a day ahead and are great either hot from the oven or at room temperature. Pretty much everyone seems to love them so they are guaranteed crowd-pleasers too.

Plum Crumble
Other crumble (crisp) recipes

If you like this recipe for Plum Crumble, you might also be interested in my recipes for Apple Crumble, which is probably the classic crumble, and Rhubarb Crumble. For something a bit different, you could also try my Rhubarb Crumble Cake! If crumble is not your thing, I also have a lot of other easy dessert recipes.

Loved this recipe? Checkout lots of other easy desert recipes or have a look at the Recipe Index page.

Plum Crumble
What you need to know about making Plum Crumble
  • It is really easy! This is just about the easiest dessert recipe you can find.
  • It can be made in advance. You can assemble the crumble up to step 7 and then cover and keep it in the fridge overnight. Then remove from the fridge around a couple of hours before you plan to start cooking it to allow it to return to room temperature. Then put it in the oven and cook for 35 minutes before serving.
  • It is good hot or cold. I generally will aim to serve my crumbles hot. However, often there is some left over and I have found that actually room-temperature crumble is as good, or rather controversially perhaps even better than, hot crumble. If you have any left over crumble, you can cover it and keep it in the fridge for a couple of days. You either eat it cold, allow it to return to room-temperature or reheat in a microwave or in the oven. If you are reheating it in the oven, allow it to return to room-temperature, cover it with foil to prevent it burning and cook at 180 C, 400 F or Gas Mark 4 for 20 minutes.
  • I love the flavour of star anise and vanilla in my Plum Crumble. However, you can leave either or both of these flavourings out if they do not appeal to you.

Loved this recipe? Checkout the Recipe Index.

Plums
What sort of plums should you use?

You can use any type of fresh plums in this recipe. I use Victoria Plums as I have a very prolific tree in my garden. This is a great recipe to make in late summer or early autumn (fall) when plums are in season. However, plums freeze well so I will often freeze a few batches and use them for crumbles later on in the year. I wash the plums, cut them in half to remove the stones and then chop into large pieces. I then put crumble-sized portions into freezer bags and freeze until required. This makes crumble-making even easier!

Other plum recipes

If you have a seasonal over-supply of plums, I have a few other plum recipes. Plum Gin Liqueur is an easy and delicious way of capturing the flavour of fresh plums. Plum Jam and Plum Chutney are also a great way of using up all those delicious plums.

Recipe for Plum Crumble with Star Anise

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Plum Crumble

Plum Crumble

  • Author: Tastebotanical
  • Prep Time: 10
  • Cook Time: 35
  • Total Time: 45 minutes
  • Yield: Serves 6 1x
  • Category: Dessert
  • Method: Baking
  • Cuisine: English

Description

This easy Plum Crumble recipe is made from fresh plums, flavoured with vanilla and star anise, with a crisp, buttery topping.


Scale

Ingredients

  • 1 kilo (2 lb) of fresh plums
  • 4 tablespoons of brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon of vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon of ground star anise or 2 whole star anise pods
  • 350 g (12 oz) plain flour
  • 175 g (6 oz) butter or vegetable fat
  • 175 g (6 oz) caster sugar
  • Flaked almonds

Instructions

  1. Set your oven to 180 C, 400 F or Gas Mark 4.
  2. Wash your plums.  Cut each one in half and remove the stone.  Cut each of your plum halves into approximately three or four pieces.
  3. Put the chopped plums in a baking dish (20 cm x 28 cm).  Sprinkle with the brown sugar.  
  4. Add the vanilla extract and star anise to the plums. If you are using ground star anise sprinkle it over the plums. If you are using whole star anise seedpods add them to the dish.  You will get a milder flavour if you are using the whole seedpods.  You will also need to let people know that they are there! 
  5. Next make the crumble topping.  Put the flour and butter (or vegetable fat) in a bowl and “rub in” using your fingers,  or use a food processor, until the mixture looks like fine breadcrumbs.  Then stir in the caster sugar.
  6. Pour the crumble topping on top of the rhubarb.
  7. Place the baking dish in the oven and cook for 35 minutes.
  8. If you wish, you can sprinkle some flaked almonds on top of the crumble for the final 5 minutes that it is in the oven.  They should get brown and toasted (but not burnt) if they are added at this stage.

Keywords: crumble, crisp, plums,

This recipe has been shared on #CookBlogShare with Lost in Food and #FiestaFriday with Fiesta Friday and  Liz @ Spades, Spatulas & Spoons

Loved this recipe? Checkout the Recipe Index.

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Apple Ice Cream

Apple Ice Cream with Salted Caramel

In my household, for obvious reasons, we call this recipe “Toffee Apple Ice Cream”. I am a firm believer that ice cream is not just for summer and this is a great recipe for autumn. It is brilliant on a warm early autumn day and also when you want a light dessert when it gets a bit colder in late autumn or winter. The taste of this ice cream reminds me of fairgrounds (see the reference to Toffee Apples), Halloween and Bonfire Night (November 5th).

Loved this recipe? Checkout the Recipe Index.

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What you need to know about this Apple Ice Cream

  • As I am keen on using seasonal, local produce, I generally make this ice cream in late August and September when it is apple season in England. However, you can make it all the year around.
  • You must use eating rather than cooking apples for this ice cream. Cooking apples will break down into a mush when they are heated. This is great for apple pies and crumbles but not for a recipe where you want the individual chunks to become caramelised.
  • You can choose any kind of eating apples to make this ice cream. However, as with any recipe, the taste will be better if you ingredients are really flavoursome. Choose apples that are sweet but but have a bit of sharpness such as Coxes (my favourite). or the ingredients, the better the finished
  • I like to experiment with flavour combinations and so I have added a sprig of thyme to flavour the caramelised apples. If you don’t have any bay leaves to hand, or simply don’t like the idea of adding this to your ice cream, that is fine. Just leave it out. The ice cream will still taste good!
  • You can use ready-made Salted Caramel in this recipe. However, I would really recommend making your own. I have an really easy Salted Caramel recipe and home-made tastes better than shop-bought. It also has lots of other uses such as being eaten in large spoonfuls directly from the jar…
  • Although you can make this recipe without an ice cream maker, it is a lot easier if you have one. You can buy a basic ice cream maker fairly cheaply.
  • It is best to start this recipe the day before you eat it. This will mean that once you have made the basic custard, it will have time to chill down before you put it in the ice cream maker the next day.
  • You can also make this ice cream well in advance if that is more convenient. I generally make double the quantity and keep it in the freezer where it will last for up to three months.
  • As with most home-made ice creams, it helps to remove the container from the freezer about ten minutes before serving as this will make it easier to scoop.

How to eat this Apple Ice Cream

This ice cream is pretty good just serves on its own. However, here are a some ideas for other ways that you can serve it.

  • A few chunks of caramelised apple is a good addition. If you make double the quantity, you will have plenty to serve alongside the ice cream. Similarly, a drizzle of Salted Caramel makes it even more delicious.
  • You could serve this ice cream as an accompaniment to any apple-based dessert. It is excellent served along with Apple Crumble or Apple Pie.
  • A drizzle of something alcoholic is also a good way to go with any ice cream in my view. Try something with a base note of apple, such as an apple liqueur.
In praise of apples

I love apples and really enjoy trying different varieties. I like to eat them just as they are and also to use them in comforting, traditional recipes such as Apple Crumble or Apple Cake. There are 2,500 varieties of apple. However, the big supermarkets tend to sell a very narrow range of apples. Many of the traditional varieties are becoming increasingly rare as they do not match the requirements of the big supermarkets. It is really worth visiting farmers’ markets and farm shops which generally have a wider (and locally-grown) selection.

Also, it is worth checking out events that are organised for Apple Day. In the UK, Common Ground organised the first Apple Day on 21st October 1990 in London. It has been held annually ever since and over 600 regional events take place each year. If you are interested in supporting diversity in apple production, and trying some delicious apples, you should be able to find an event near you. The Orchard Network maintains a list of events on its website.

Loved this recipe? Checkout the Recipe Index.

Other home-made ice cream recipes

I am a great home-made ice cream enthusiast. I make it in the summer, of course, but am happy to eat it in winter too! There are some brilliant, shop-bought ice creams available but it is so easy to make your own. I like to experiment with flavours and some of my other ice cream recipes are listed below.

  • Blackberry and Bay Ice Cream – foraged blackberries with an underlying note of warm, spicy bay
  • Roasted Cherry Ice Cream – juicy fresh cherries with a bit of booze make this a rich and indulgent dessert (you can leave out the alcohol if you really want to)
  • Coffee Ice Cream – quick and easy, store-cupboard recipe using instant coffee which has an amazingly rich coffee flavour
  • Cranberry Ice Cream – if you have any left-over cranberry sauce, you know what to do with it
  • Elderflower Ice-cream – easy recipe using elderflower cordial – delicious floral taste of summer!
  • Lavender Ice-cream – another gorgeous floral ice cream (bit of a theme here at tastebotanical…) made with fresh or dried culinary lavender
  • Lemon Curd Ice Cream – this tangy, three-ingredient recipe is probably the simplest ice cream recipe you will find
  • Rose Ice-cream – made with culinary rosewater, this ice cream is the essence of an English summer garden
  • Strawberry Balsamic Ice-cream – strawberry ice cream given a lift with a dash of balsamic vinegar to bring out the sweetness
  • Thyme ice-cream with honey and mascarpone – thyme, honey and mascarpone…. in an ice cream – what’s not to like?

Recipe for Apple Ice Cream with Salted Caramel (Toffee Apple Ice Cream)

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Apple Ice Cream

Apple Ice Cream with Salted Caramel

  • Author: Tastebotanical

Description

This easy Apple Ice Cream has a double hit of caramel.  Sweet caramelised apples and a swirl of salted caramel running through it.  


Scale

Ingredients

  • 2 eating apples
  • 25 g (1 oz) dark brown sugar
  • 25 g (1 oz) butter
  • Half teaspoon of salt
  • 425 ml (15 fl oz) double cream
  • 4 egg yolks
  • 85 g (3 oz) caster sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 4 tablespoons Salted Caramel 

Instructions

  1. Peel, core and roughly chop the apples.  Put them in a heavy-based frying pan with the dark brown sugar and butter.  Fry over a very low heat for 30 minutes until the apple has softened and is light brown and caramelised.  Remove the apple and juices from the pan.   Chop the apple with a knife or pulse in a food processor until it forms a thick puree.
  2. Whisk the egg yolks with the sugar in a bowl until the mixture looks paler and resembles a mousse.
  3. Add the bay leaves to the cream and heat it to scalding point in a saucepan or in a microwave. Do not allow to boil – it will be the right temperature when you are just about able to bear to dip a finger in it.
  4. Pour the cream into the bowl containing the egg yolks and whisk all the time.
  5. Transfer the combined mixture into a bowl set over a pan of simmering water or, ideally a double-boiler, as you need to reheat it very gently.
  6. The mixture will gradually thicken until it looks like a custard (which is what it is).  Stir regularly to make sure it does not stick while it is thickening.
  7. Remove the thick custard from the heat and transfer into a bowl.  Stir in the vanilla extract and the apple puree.
  8. Allow to cool to room temperature and then transfer to the fridge to become thoroughly chilled.
  9. When you are ready to make the ice-cream transfer the mixture to your ice cream maker and use according to your machine’s instructions.  If you do not have an ice cream maker, you can place the mixture in a freezer-proof container, put in the freezer for several hours until half-frozen.  Whisk the mixture and then return to the container and replace in the freezer until totally frozen.
  10. Swirl the Salted Caramel through the ice cream just before it is fully frozen.

This recipe has been shared on #CookBlogShare with Cooking with my Kids and #Fiesta Friday with Fiesta Friday and Laurena @ Life Diet Health

Loved this recipe? Checkout the Recipe Index.

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Plum Gin

Home-made Plum Gin recipe

This home-made Plum Gin involves combining fresh plums, sugar and gin and allowing time for the essence of the fruit to transfer into the alcohol. The end result is a plum-flavoured liqueur which has a concentrated, sweet plum taste. It is fantastic either on its own or as an ingredient in cocktails.

Where I live in the Cotswolds, plums are in season in August and early September. This is the perfect time to make Plum Gin to drink at Christmas. If you make this recipe, you should imagine sipping a glass of dark red, fruity and delicious drink on a cold winter’s night!

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What you need to know about making Plum Gin

  • You can use any kind of gin in this recipe. I generally use a mid-range supermarket brand. You don’t want to use a really top-class gin – better just to drink that with some tonic – but on the other hand you don’t want to use something that tastes like lighter fluid! If you don’t have any gin available, you can substitute vodka. You just need an alcohol base that will absorb all the delicious fruity flavour of the plums.
  • You can make this recipe with any kind of plum. I use Victoria Plums, as I have a tree in my garden, but there are lots of other varieties available and they all make a good flavouring for gin.
  • You need to allow at least three weeks for the flavour of the plums to transfer into the liquid. However, you can leave them in for up to two months. The longer the plums remain in the alcohol, the more intense the final flavour. Once the fruit is removed, the gin will last for at least a year.

Recipe variations

You can add additional flavourings to this Plum Gin.

  • Star anise – put a couple of star anise pods in with the plums
  • Vanilla – similarly, just add a vanilla pod to the jar
  • Ginger – add a few slices of fresh ginger
  • Cinnamon – add a cinnamon stick
  • Cardamon – add three or four cardamon pods

Loved this recipe? Checkout the Recipe Index.

Other home-made gin

I love making fruit-flavoured gin. It is the perfect way to use seasonal fruit and flowers, at a time when there is often an over-supply, and preserve the wonderful flavour to enjoy later in the year. Some of my favourites are Blackberry Gin, Rhubarb Gin, Elderflower Gin and Damson Gin.

Home-made Plum Gin recipe

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Plum Gin

Plum Gin

  • Author: Tastebotanical
  • Prep Time: 10
  • Total Time: 10
  • Yield: 500 ml 1x
  • Category: Gin
  • Cuisine: English

Description

This home-made Plum Gin involves combining fresh plums, sugar and gin and allowing time for the essence of the fruit to transfer into the alcohol.


Scale

Ingredients

  • 500 g (1 lb) fresh plums
  • 100 g (4 oz) caster sugar
  • 500 ml (1 pint) gin

 


Instructions

  1. Wash the plums.  Prick them with a fork and then cut them in half without removing the stones.
  2. Place the plums in a sterilised jar.   
  3. Add the sugar and gin and shake to mix together.    The gin  must cover the top of the plums.
  4. Put the lid on the jar.
  5. Keep it in a cool, dark place for four weeks. 
  6. At the end of that time, the gin is ready to drink!    Strain the gin into a sterilised bottle through a muslin cloth held in a funnel and discard the fruit.

Plum Gin


Notes

You can sterilise your jam jars by washing them in warm, soapy water, rinsing well and then drying off for 15 minutes in an oven set at 140C/120C fan/gas 1.

Although it only takes 20 minutes preparation time, you will need to allow 24 hours for the rhubarb to macerate  in the sugar and, once you have added the gin, it will take a further four weeks to allow the flavour to develop.

Keywords: gin, plum, home-made gin, fruit gin,

This recipe has been shared on #CookBlogShare with Recipes Made Easy and #Fiesta Friday with Fiesta Friday and  Liz @ Spades, Spatulas & Spoons

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Salted Caramel recipe

Salted Caramel Sauce

Home-made Salted Caramel Sauce recipe

If you have never tried making your own Salted Caramel, I would really encourage you to give it a go as it is easy to make and is so much more delicious – sweet, creamy, buttery – than any shop-bought, pre-made versions. It is clearly not the healthiest recipe but I firmly believe that everyone needs a treat every now and then and a little goes a long way.

Loved this recipe? Checkout the Recipe Index.

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Is it hard to make Salted Caramel sauce?

No, it is very straight-forward. There are lots of Salted Caramel recipes but this one is a really quick and easy. In some recipes, you are told to melt the sugar on its own at the start. This is fine if you know what you are doing but it is easy to burn it and end up with a bitter-tasting sauce. In this recipe, the sugar is added to the melted butter which prevents it burning and results in a deliciously sweet and creamy caramel sauce. You do not need any additional equipment, such as a sugar thermometer, to make it.

Salted Caramel Sauce
Do I have to add salt to my caramel?

No. It is up to you whether or not you add salt to the caramel. If you don’t like it, leave it out. The amount of salt that you add is up to you. I add a small amount – around half a teaspoon – as I think it brings out the flavour of the caramel.

How long does it last?

The smart answer is, in my house, freshly-made caramel sauce lasts about fifteen minutes. Particularly, if my children are at home. However, if you can resist the temptation to eat it straight from the pan, you can pour the sauce into a sterilised jam jar. Put the lid on the jar and store it in the fridge for up to two weeks.

There are various methods of sterilising jars. I generally sterilise my jars by washing them in warm, soapy water, rinsing well and then drying off for 15 minutes in an oven set at 140 C/280 F/gas 1.

Salted Caramel Sauce
How can I use Salted Caramel sauce?

As well as using it as a cake drizzle, Salted Caramel is great as a sauce with ice-cream or spread over the top of a cheesecake.

  • It can be used, either warm or cold, as a sauce for ice cream. I think it goes particularly well with coffee, chocolate, vanilla and nut flavours. You can also serve it with plain yogurt, particularly thicker Greek-style yogurt.
  • In addition to being a great sauce for ice cream, you can also use it as an ingredient in home-made ice cream. I stir it into my Apple Ice Cream so you get a ripple of salted caramel running through it.
  • It can be used as a sauce for traditional sponge puddings instead of – or in addition to – cream or custard.
  • Spread or drizzle it on a cheesecake or over a pavlova. I use it to make my Apple Pavlova. I also sometimes use it instead of ready-made dulce de leche to make Banoffee Pie.
  • The cooled sauce is brilliant as a cake drizzle. I use it on my Latte Cake but you can use it on lots of different cakes. It is good with coffee, chocolate or vanilla flavoured cakes. I also like it on nut-flavoured cakes – particularly hazelnut and walnut.
  • You can also stir a spoonful of caramel into your coffee, hot chocolate or mug of hot milk.

Loved this recipe? Checkout the Recipe Index.

Other sauce recipes

If you like this recipe, you might like to have a look at some of my other sauce recipes.

Easy Salted Caramel Sauce recipe

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Salted Caramel Sauce

Salted Caramel recipe

  • Author: Tastebotanical
  • Total Time: 5 minutes
  • Yield: 1 large jar 1x

Description

This quick and easy home-made Salted Caramel Sauce is deliciously sweet, creamy and buttery.   


Scale

Ingredients

  • 125 g (4 oz) butter
  • 250 g (8 oz) light brown muscovado sugar
  • 125 g (4 oz) double cream
  • Salt to taste

Instructions

  1. Melt the butter in a small pan.

  2. Add the muscovado sugar. 

  3. Heat gently until the sugar is dissolved.   

  4. Add the double cream and continue to heat for another two or three minutes. 

  5. Remove from the heat and add salt to taste.   

  6. Serve warm or allow to cool.  The caramel will thicken as it cools. 

     


Keywords: salted caramel

This recipe has been shared on #CookBlogShare with A Strong Coffee and #Fiesta Friday with Fiesta Friday  and  Jhuls @ The Not So Creative Cook

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