Pinterest is gonna be the death of me

Salted-Caramel-Sauce-11

Photo courtesy of Two Peas and Their Pod blog

I love Pinterest. I really do. It’s as addictive as Facebook. I’ve pinned hundreds of recipes I’ll never try, redecorating ideas I’ll never enact, quotes I’ll never remember (thank goodness Pinterest reminds me when I try to post one I’ve already posted), and crafts that I’ll never have time to make. It’s a great repository of someone else’s achievements and luscious pictures of great-looking food.

I have found some very good recipes there, and yesterday I tried a seemingly simple one:  Fleur de sel caramel sauce. Fleur de sel, meaning flower of salt, flaky, delicate sea salt, combined with caramel, what’s not to like about that? Four ingredients: sugar, butter, heavy cream, and fleur de sel. Couldn’t be simpler, right? Wrong!

My first mistake was deciding to double the batch. Most recipe authors include a warning if this is a bad idea, but there wasn’t one, so I figured I might as well get it over with in one mess. Second mistake was in not tripling the size of the saucepan, instead of doubling it. Third mistake was not letting my butter and heavy cream completely come to room temperature, and by room temperature, I mean close to the boiling point of the cooked sugar.

In the recipe, the author did give very detailed instructions. and what to watch out for. What they didn’t say was this is going to be extremely messy and time-consuming, not to mention that the failure rate is probably extremely high. They make it look so easy in the perfect photos.

The moment I started cooking the four cups of sugar (doubled, remember?), I knew I was in trouble. The whisk that they said to use was useless. I needed to use a wooden spoon, but by this time the sugar was starting to clump up in the whisk, and I didn’t want to lose any of it. Ha! If I had only known!

It took forever and a day for the sugar to liquefy and finally to turn the amber color that I was supposed to look for. Meanwhile, I’m whisking furiously to get out all of the clumps of undissolved sugar. There’s sugar cemented to the sides of the pan that I know is never going to dissolve, but at this point I just had to go for it. I decided to stick my finger in a little to make sure it didn’t taste burned. OMG, not a good idea!!! Ouch, ouch, ouch! Hot, burning, taffy sugar! I knew this, and still did it, because I’m a moron and forgot this would happen.

Then it was time to whisk in the three (yes, three) sticks of butter. This is where getting the right size pan is crucial. It does not incorporate willingly. The butter was sloshing everywhere, including all over the pants I was wearing. Good lord, will this experiment never end??? Of course, this step takes forever, too. Next comes the heavy cream. I knew when I picked up the container and felt a bit of coolness that my trouble was seriously going to intensify, but I was in too far now, and had to continue. Oh, lordy, what a mess! The mixture seized up, as you probably had already guessed, because that’s what hot liquid sugar does when it comes in contact with cool liquid. More furious stirring and whisking, trying to get out all the clumps, which, by the way, never completely happened.

I finally managed to get it fairly smooth, actually pulling out some of the larger clumps of solidified sugar, then I let it settle for a few minutes. I filled five half-pint jars without too much of a fuss with only minor sediment at the bottom. The teachers who are the recipients of this incredibly awful, but incredibly wonderful tasting concoction, will just have to deal with it. Maybe they’ll just think that it’s salt crystals in the bottom.

My kitchen looked like a caramel bomb had exploded in there. The cleanup was so much fun, and I kept finding little bits of caramel all day that I had to lick wash. Even the top of the coffee maker. What?

The caramel sauce does taste amazing. Will I ever make it again? No. Way.

See you soon,

Susan

Addendum: Apparently, I wasn’t the only one who had the same trouble with their sauce. I went back to the post and read some of the 200+ comments, and there were several whose experiences sounded exactly like mine. I was a little peeved that these concerns weren’t addressed by the blog authors, but anyway, I guess they’re too busy coming up with other seemingly simple recipes to post. 🙂

I will try it again, using a couple of adjustments that I gleaned from an old recipe of mine, because I don’t like a recipe getting the best of me, and after eating some warmed over vanilla ice cream, I was blown away by its deliciousness (see my reply to Natalie in the comments.)  Mainly, I will add a small amount of water to the sugar prior to cooking. I’m pretty sure that will solve the clumping issue in that stage. Also, I will make sure that my butter and cream are at a warmer temperature. My room temp is probably much cooler than is required, and hopefully this will cure the problem with the seizing up.

16 thoughts on “Pinterest is gonna be the death of me

  1. OMG!

    I do know what you mean about Pinterest. I go back through all those quilts I pin for inspiration. 🙂

    This recipe and process!!! My hands would never have had the strength. Good for you finishing it! I’m sure it tastes fabulous. What a great gift. I wish Don’s students would send some home with him.

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    • Why do they make it look so effortless? They should be more honest, and say, hey, this is a real nightmare to make, but if you’re a glutton for punishment, then go right ahead, because it’s worth it. I’m guessing they wouldn’t have very many takers. I’m pretty sure that I have a much easier recipe in my ancient hand-written recipe book. Maybe I’ll make some of that and bring to you when we visit. 🙂

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  2. OMG! LOL! I hate when recipes turn on you like that. There oughta be a law. I bet the recipients will love it. The crystals in the bottom of the jar are what makes it homemade. The teachers will appreciate that. 🙂

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    • Oh, it definitely turned on me alright! I think I need to go back to the blog and read all 200+ comments and see if this problem was mentioned anywhere. Right, I’ll do that with all my spare time. LOL In the meantime, I think this one will be filed in old number 13, the old round file. 😀

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  3. I keep forgetting about Pinterest. The only time I’ve ever landed there are the times when I discover someone’s pinned one of my photos from my blog. I guess it supposed to be a good thing when that happens, but it still ruffles one or two of my feathers. Clearly, I’m not fully of the social media generation.

    I laughed at your adventure, but sympathetically. It occurs to me: too many of those recipes with the gorgeous photos and no warnings are the equivalent of photoshopped starlets who’ve had their sags removed. Who knows? All those great photos of “the process” well could be from three dozen attempts, where only one thing went right per attempt!

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    • Linda, you could be right about it being a culmination of many tries, although I can’t imagine why anyone would want to go through that ordeal to perfect it or get the right pictures.

      It would be nice if those pinners would at least give you credit for your photos, which is what they’re supposed to do, but probably hardly anyone ever does it. I’m spending more time blogging than pinning these days, which is a good thing. And I quit Facebook a few months ago for the third and final time, which is a VERY good thing. So now I have even more time to write and catch up with my friends’ posts. 🙂

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  4. I’m afraid to go to Pinterest too much — I know I’ll get overwhelmed. I had to chuckle at your culinary escapade! I’ve had more than one of those. Glad for the end result, glad to not have to commit to this again!

    Well, I’m off to do my first baking of the season and now I can start it with a grin on my face. Tried and true, I think I’ll stick to!

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    • Hi Jeanie! Yes, Pinterest is a sucking black hole with pretty pictures. LOL It’s fun to think you’ll actually ever use all those ideas and recipes, and I guess it’s no worse than flipping through magazines and tearing them out. At least they’re easy to find when you go to look for one.

      Have fun with your baking!

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  5. I too have been sucked into the Pinterest hell lately. It all started when I decided to look up some appetizer recipes for a friend. It quickly spiraled to hours of organizing my own Pinterest categories and from there searching and ‘pinning’ (yes, that’s now a verb) many more.

    The visuals you create with your words completely crack me up! I’m glad the caramel sauce tastes good. My word for the holidays (I try this every year) is ‘simplify.’ This usually ends up sending me into a last minute panic when I realize I’ve left out a dozen people I need to give gifts to. Enjoy the holidays, and don’t forget to breathe! xxoo

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    • Oh, lord, don’t I know how easy it is to lose a couple of hours on there! I’m not sure how much better it is than FB, but at least on Pinterest I don’t have to listen to my wrong-minded family on politics. LOL I think I actually used ‘pinning’ on Words with Friends or Lexulous the other day.

      I wish I could stick to that ‘simplify’ thing. I always do this, and end up exhausted and not able to enjoy the holidays because of my own stupid over-doing it. I do think I know what went wrong in the initial melting of the sugar. When I’ve made it in the past, I think I used just a bit of water and that made it melt much more smoothly and not clump up. I’m going to dig out my old recipe that I used years ago, and see if that was it.

      I’m glad I was able to entertain you!

      Here’s to more breathing and less self-induced anxiety!!! xoxo

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    • Hi Natalie! Yes, it was quite the fiasco, and I regretted every minute of it, until last evening when I tried some heated in the microwave and drizzled over my vanilla ice cream, and actually visited heaven for a few minutes. Ohmylordinheaven was it delicious. I really wanted to lick the bowl clean, but my granddaughter was watching and I didn’t think it would set a very good example. 🙂 I tried to get her to sample it, but she turned up her nose and said, no thank you. I secretly fist-pumped. lol

      I think I will have to make it again with a few minor adjustments. I’m going to add water to the sugar for one thing. I think that will make it melt more smoothly. And this time I’m going to make darned sure that all my ingredients are warmer than room temperature, since my house is a little cooler than I think is required. And I won’t be testing with my bare fingers or lips either! (It only hurt for a little while, but still.) I think my next report will (hopefully) be a little better.

      Love having you here! xoxo

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  6. Man-o-man, what a great laugh you gave me!!! You are a complete nut, as far as going the whole nine yards for teacher Christmas presents is concerned. Thinking your should maybe be put in a straitjacket this time next year, tho’………

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    • I’m just your clown, here to entertain you! Those danged teachers better appreciate all that I do for them!

      Yeah, you’re probably right about my needing a straitjacket, because it’s only just begun. I’m making more of it today (read my addendum above), because I ran out before we got to the piano teacher. Actually, the oldest boy decided he had another teacher that he needed one for, so I had to give hers away. And after having some myself, I have to have MORE! Wish I could send you some. 🙂

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    • Dear Sister, you can be a fly on my wall any day. Of course, I would rather you be a guest at my table. 🙂 All’s well that ends well, and the end result was delicious, so I guess it was worth it. I’m still hoarding the rest of my little jar, hoping no one else decides they just have to have caramel on their ice cream. 🙂

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