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summer approacheth

Recipe: peanut butter caramel sauce

All signs point to summer: the blazing sun, rising mercury, pine pollen, afternoon thunderstorms, open windows at night, wild strawberry blossoms along my trail runs, and the impending solstice. Oh, but the best is yet to come when the snow in the high country finally recedes and the huckleberries and porcini emerge alongside colorful alpine wildflowers. It’s weeks away and yet I can already anticipate it will be here before I know it because everything seems to take place in these short summer months. Earlier in the week we enjoyed a lovely happy hour at The Flagstaff House with my parents. I have a feeling summer will kick into high gear very soon.

my rocky mountain cucumber cocktail (sans alcohol)

tuna tartare

fried oysters on polenta (if you go there, order this – so good!)

my queen of the night bloomed (symbolizes good luck!)

our aspen stands have turned lush and green

Before my parents arrived in Colorado, I had lunch with my friend, Ellen of Helliemae’s Caramels. She gave me a bag of her jasmine caramels to welcome my parents, a box of coffee caramels for Jeremy (the coffee fiend), and a bag of peanut butter caramels. It’s a sort of ritual among certain friends of mine that whenever we see each other, we bring gifts like pickled okra or organic adzuki beans or a little box of Maldon sea salt or a jar of homemade kimchi or a bottle of homemade foraged elderflower cordial – but Ellen is the master of caramels. It’s her thing.

creamy, smooth peanut butter caramels

I enjoy the first couple of caramels for what they are and then by the third, I start imagining how awesome they would be in other recipes. One of Jeremy’s favorite items from Helliemae’s is the Chili Palmer caramel sauce. He puts it on ice cream like it is going out of fashion, which got me thinking about peanut butter caramel sauce and the awesomeness that would be a sundae with said sauce. I didn’t have enough caramels left (oops!) to make a sauce out of them, so I made it from scratch.

sugar, cream, peanut butter

Yes, all you need is sugar, cream, and peanut butter. Actually, if you use an unsalted peanut butter like I did, then you might want to add some sea salt as well. The basic procedure is to caramelize the sugar, stir in hot cream until the caramel is dissolved, and add peanut butter. To caramelize the sugar, just set it in a saucepan over medium heat and wait several minutes until it begins to melt. This dry method is a lot less temperamental than the wet method (with water).

sugar in one pan, cream in another

melt the sugar

let it turn a deep amber color

When the sugar has caramelized, stir in the hot cream. It will bubble up and spatter, which is why I use a medium size saucepan to contain all of the action. Stay calm and keep stirring. Even with the addition of hot cream, you will wind up with chunks of hardened caramel. It’s okay. Return the pan to the stove and simmer over medium low heat, stirring until the caramel has completely dissolved. You probably want to add the salt at this point. Then stir in the peanut butter over low heat until smooth.

pour in the hot cream

chunk of hardened caramelized sugar

add salt

stir in the peanut butter

Wasn’t that easy? It’s really not so bad once you get over the danger of dealing with molten sugar. Just remember not to touch it because we’re talking 320°F hot. Also, it sticks to your skin and solidifies to make the burn extra special. If you don’t think you can resist touching molten caramelized sugar for whatever reason, at least keep a bowl of ice water nearby so you can dunk the assailed part of your body to minimize the damage. But if you really want to minimize the damage, DON’T TOUCH THE MOLTEN SUGAR.

The sauce turned out nice and peanut buttery. It flows best when warm because it gets a little gloppy as it cools (because of the peanut butter). The yield is about 1 1/4 cups and it stores well in an air-tight container or jar in the refrigerator for at least a week.

peanut butter caramel sauce

drizzle over chocolate and vanilla ice creams with whipped cream and sprinkles

get ready for a party in your mouth

Peanut Butter Caramel Sauce
[print recipe]
slightly modified from Epicurious

1/2 cup sugar
1 cup heavy cream
1/2 tsp salt or to taste (optional)
1/3 cup creamy peanut butter

Place the sugar in a medium (3 quart) saucepan and set over medium heat. Heat the heavy cream in a small saucepan over medium heat. When the cream begins to simmer, reduce heat to low. The sugar should begin to melt after four or more minutes. Give it a gentle stir to mix the dry grains with the melted sugar. When the sugar is completely liquid and a deep amber color (another few minutes), remove from heat. Stir the hot cream into the caramelized sugar. It will sputter and bubble up, but keep stirring. Some of the caramelized sugar will harden in blobs, that’s okay. Return the pan to medium-low heat and simmer while stirring until all of the caramel has dissolved (took me 12 minutes). If you are using an unsalted peanut butter, stir the salt into the caramel – totally optional. Add the peanut butter to the caramel and stir over medium-low heat until smooth. Store in a jar in the refrigerator. Makes 1 1/4 cups.

more goodness from the use real butter archives

peanut butter truffles bourbon caramel chocolate banana cream pie pumpkin peanut butter dog treats banana peanut butter pupsicles

18 nibbles at “summer approacheth”

  1. Kristin says:

    Oh boy…heaven for my son. I have a feeling we’ll be trying this one when he gets home from camp!

  2. Pey-Lih says:

    Oh, that’s interesting- a recipe for sauce… I think it’s cool you made it scratch and had it on top of a sundae. I love the rainbow sprinkles….they make me happy!

  3. Katrina @ Warm Vanilla Sugar says:

    I would put this stuff on EVERYTHING! Holy smokes!

  4. Tegan says:

    I had made a Peanut Butter and Jelly cake with a one egg cake recipe. I’d tried to make a caramel like topping, that just turned into a solid candy — clearly my candymaking skills aren’t up to par. But now I know that THIS is literally exactly what I should have been looking for!

  5. Brandon @ Kitchen Konfidence says:

    Oh my, this looks delicious. And only 4 ingredients!

  6. Maryw says:

    That looks delicious! How long will that keep? Any idea?

  7. dina says:

    oh wow this sounds amazing!

  8. Chrissy says:

    I can’t believe I never thought to substitute PB for regular butter in caramel. You are a genius. PERIOD.

  9. Currently Crushing On. | How Sweet It Is says:

    […] peanut butter caramel sauce. my kind of […]

  10. penny conklin says:

    Do you think this will work with almond butter?

  11. jenyu says:

    Kristin – I hope he likes it!

    Pey-Lih – :)

    Katrina – ah ha ha! You’re one of THOSE folks ;)

    Tegan – It’s taken me a number trials to realize that if you add more cream, you get something more saucy.

    Brandon – right!??!

    Maryw – in the post, I say it keeps for at least a week in the refrigerator.

    dina – :)

    Chrissy – ha, not really a genius, just hungry ;)

    penny conklin – I don’t know, not being familiar with almond butter. You could try it and see?

  12. Random Chitchat – Foodomania says:

    […] Peanut Butter Caramel Sauce – I mean – what the hell is even that?! […]

  13. love, in this moment | Floptimism says:

    […] which may actually be my birthday “cake” this year because LOOK AT THEM. this peanut butter caramel sauce this vanilla cornmeal crumb cake with candied cherry tomatoes. this cherry crisp ice cream this […]

  14. Sophie says:

    Will it work with crunchy peanut butter?

  15. jenyu says:

    Sophie – yes, it shouldn’t be a problem.

  16. Jenny says:

    “Makes that burn extra special!!!” Good Lord that made me laugh out loud. I burned myself with sugar syrup yesterday and I can attest to that!! I feel extra bad for burn patients every time that happens. That being said, this looks great!

  17. Ashley says:

    Does this reheat well? If I made this tonight could I store it and then reheat it tomorrow? I need it to be really hot to melt the chocolate I pour it on

  18. jenyu says:

    Ashley – yes, it reheats well as long as you heat it up gently. I’d try to reheat on stovetop over low heat or in the microwave five seconds at a time (stirring between each).

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