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Salted Caramel Sauce (and Caramel Buttercream Frosting)

Whew.  Fritz and I went to dentist prom last night (their formal) and had a total blast.

I did not take one single picture, so none of you get to experience the rarity that is me all dressed up in high heels and way too much makeup. ¬†Sorry! ¬†There weren’t as many crazy dental students gettin’ down on the dance floor as I’ve experienced in years past, which was kind of a bummer, but we still had fun.

Speaking of dental students, I made a cake last weekend for Fritz’s friend Jun Oh, and thought it was about time I shared my new favorite baking skill.

It’s called caramel sauce, my friends. ¬†Which I then went and made into a buttercream frosting. ¬†Hel-LO.

Salted Caramel Sauce (Original recipe from mykitchenaddiction.com)

  • 1 C sugar
  • 1 T water
  • 4 T unsalted butter
  • 1/2 C heavy cream
  • 1 t sea salt

Combine the sugar and water over medium-high heat in a saucepan.

You can stir it up (try to mix in some of the water) but once the sugar starts browning, leave it alone.  No stirring.  Put the spoon down.

I kinda shimmied the pan around so all the sugar got mixed in.  Let it turn a nice, dark brown.

But not too dark.

Once it’s ready, remove the pan from the heat and pour in the heavy cream, butter, and sea salt. ¬†Be careful here–it can foam up and get all over the place, unlike my photo, in which the caramel cooled a bit since I had to switch pans midway. ¬†Just be careful.

Stir until everything comes together, and set aside to come to room temperature.

And taste some of it, too. ¬†I don’t even really like caramel, and this was delicious. ¬†The best part was biting into a crunchy sea salt grain–an unexpected and completely delightful taste sensation.

And to turn this into frosting is super easy. ¬†I’m not gonna share the chocolate cake recipe since I never got to taste the finished product, so I have no idea how it turned out. ¬†Looked good, but very basic recipe!

Salted Caramel Buttercream Frosting (makes enough to generously frost a 9″ layer cake)

  • 1 recipe caramel sauce (see above–probably a cup and a half?), cooled
  • 1 1/2 sticks butter, room temperature
  • 5-6 cups confectioners’ sugar

Onc e the caramel has cooled, beat in the butter using the flat beater of your mixer.  Or your muscles, if you are cool like that.

Start adding in the sugar, a few cups at first, then in smaller amounts, until the frosting reaches the consistency you like.

So good.  You can absolutely taste the browned sugar taste of the caramel.

To frost the cake (note that the layers aren’t exactly the same size and I didn’t feel like cutting the bottom one–I’m not just an uneven froster), pile on the frosting and give it a rough shape.

If you get crumbs on the knife you use, wipe that frosting off the knife pronto. ¬†Nothin’ like crumbs in the frosting to ruin the look.

Once you’ve got frosting up the wazoo, smooth everything out with a fresh butter knife. ¬†I don’t mind some knife marks, because 1) I’m not a professional baker or crazy person and 2) I kinda go for the rustic look anyway.

I decided to cram chocolate chips all over the edge of the cake–mostly so everyone knew to expect chocolate. ¬†I think I like the look of the cake better without them, but I like for people to get an idea of what’s inside.

Then there’s no unfortunate surprises.

Top with some sea salt and a little more chocolate.  If you want to be fancy, shaved chocolate would be much prettier!

I got good review from Fritz on the whole cake, but never tried a full slice myself.  I can tell you, though, the frosting is the best.  It would be stellar on a white cake, too.

And the caramel sauce itself is going to make a return really soon.  Keep an eye out!


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  1. Kathy

    I’ve never really been a fan of caramel (reminds me of oil for some reason…) but this looks so good! I’ve heard that you can make caramel with a can of evaporated milk.


  2. Nuts about food

    That is so funny, last week I made and posted about my first salted caramel sauce (not just salted, my first caramel ever). I have always been scared of the burning factor and the whole candy thermometer blah blah. I didn’t use one and it was so much easier than I thought. You, my dear, took it one step higher…amazing frosting!!

  3. Jenny @ BAKE

    This frosting looks delicious, I’ve been meaning to make salted caramel for a while, I might defrost my leftover caramel and have a stab at this!

  4. myfudo

    Again and again, your pictures had me drooling…Delicious! I can’t wait to try this.

  5. Fred

    Did you return the caramel sauce to the heat after putting in the butter and cream? It looks like you did in the pictures. Thank you, excited to try it!

    1. Lauren Zietsman

      Normally you wouldn’t–I did, because I switched pans midway and my caramel cooled too much before I added the butter and cream :)

  6. Susan Bewley@Budget Earth

    Wow, this icing sound so yummy! I can’t wait to try it with my chocolate cake recipe!

    Budget Earth – How to Save Money on Groceries

    1. Lauren Zietsman

      Can you really go wrong with salted caramel and buttercream? :)

  7. Rochelley

    How should the sauce and buttercream be stored?

    1. Lauren Zietsman

      fridge :) buttercream should be made right before you serve it if possible

  8. Tiffany

    I just attempted to make the caramel sauce, I have a few small chunks of sugar (which are now rock hard) left in the sauce. Did I do something wrong? What would prevent that from happening? The sauce itself is delicious, but I am concerned about the sugar chunks. Thanks

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