October is here!
I wait all year for October… And it’s not just because my birthday is in October (though, that helps). Maddie’s birthday is in October, too. We’re cool like that.
October means crunchy leaves, hot apple cider, and pumpkins. It also means it’s officially time for some serious fall baking. The weather is getting cooler (well, for the most part… I’m ignoring the fact that they are calling for weather in the mid-80s this week) and I am ready to heat up the oven and do some baking.
So, naturally, when my hubby brought home a six-pack of the Octoberfest lager scratch batch from Tröegs (a local craft brewery… and a mighty fine one), I couldn’t stop thinking of things to make with it. I’m not much of a beer drinker… But, I am a beer baker.
I contemplated some sort of Octoberfest pumpkin cake… But, then it hit me. I had to make an Octoberfest caramel sauce. The only thing better than baking with beer, is making a sauce with the beer that can be poured over a variety of baked goods. For example, I used some extra cake batter to make a few baked chocolate donuts (purely for “testing purposes”). It’s also good on pretzels. And ice cream. And pretty much anything. I’m just saying.
Even if you’re not much of a beer drinker, you should absolutely give this caramel sauce a try. The beer gives the caramel a nice flavor, but it’s not overpowering. Instead of white sugar, I’ve also used some nice dark brown sugar… I think the darker molasses flavor plays very well with the beer, especially the Octoberfest lager. And, of course, there’s salt. There’s no such thing as unsalted caramel in my kitchen. Salty sweet is the way to go.
Need another reason to make the sauce? I’ve got another recipe coming up later this week that just might take advantage of some delicious Octoberfest caramel sauce. So, you would be ahead of the game if you already had some waiting in the fridge. Of course, you might want to make a double batch so that there’s actually some left by then.
Octoberfest Caramel Sauce
Makes about 3 cups
- 1 bottle Octoberfest beer of your choice
(Pick something you like to drink)
- 1 1/2 cups dark brown sugar
- 1/4 cup unsalted butter, cut into four pieces
- 3/4 cup whole milk
(or you can use cream for a thicker and creamier caramel)
- Generous pinch of sea salt
Pour the beer into a medium saucepan. Bring to a boil and continue to cook until the liquid has reduced to 3/4 cup. (You can approximate or pour the liquid out into a measuring cup to be sure.)
Once the beer has reduced, add the brown sugar and butter to the pan. Attach a candy thermometer to the side of the pan to keep an eye on the temperature. Because you’re working with brown sugar and beer, you can’t rely on the color. Bring the mixture to a boil and continue to boil until the temperature reaches 235°F (soft ball stage).
Remove the caramel from the heat and carefully whisk in the whole milk (or cream). Add the sea salt. Bring the mixture back to a simmer and continue to cook, whisking frequently, until the caramel thickens (about another 10 minutes). The saucl will thicken more as it cools.
Allow the sauce to cool and then transfer it to an airtight container and store it in the fridge. Allow it to warm up or come to room temperature before serving.