I was listening to a podcast the other day, Heather Dubrow’s World (don’t judge me, I’m obsessed with it.) And in one episode, she was talking about seeing these amazing ideas for bakes on Pinterest and thinking “I am never going to be able to recreate that at home. Never ever.” And I definitely get that – as a blogger, my thing is to come up with fun flavour combinations or geeking out over new American sweets to bake with – definitely not perfect visuals on my bakes. So when I read Heather Baird’s blog, Sprinkle Bakes, or her first cookbook, also called SprinkleBakes, I am so excited to try the recipes, but when I looked at her recreation of a heart cake or a freeform lollipop, I panicked – artistic perfection! Luckily, with her new cookbook, Sea Salt Sweet, Baird has expanded beyond edible art to focus on one of my favourite ingredients, salt. Specifically how salt can make a sweet dessert even tastier.
I was particularly excited when I saw that the cookbook made heavy use of caramels – I love salted caramel (like pretty much everyone else) and was excited by the combinations. These pale ale caramels have a richness to them that really comes from the addition of ale. The buttered popcorn panna cotta is an innovative combination of buttery, sweet and salty. There’s even a section which reverses the formula – savoury foods spiced up by a sweet addition or glaze; the soft pretzels with honey molasses butter is definitely one we’ll be making in my home.
I’m always excited to see a blogger expanding their baking comfort zone – and I’m excited to see what Heather Bard tries next.
Ale and Pretzel Soft Caramels (from Sea Salt Sweet)
360ml pale ale
400g granulated sugar
220g light brown sugar
230g unsalted butter
240ml heavy cream
240 ml light corn syrup
1/4 teaspoon sea salt
15 pretzel rods
Heat 240ml of the pale ale over medium heat and simmer until ale is reduced to a syrup.
Combine the rest of the pale ale with the sugars, butter, heavy cream and corn syrup.
Cook until the temperature reaches 117C. Beardy Husband was doing this bit for me and noted that the first time he tried it, it didn’t set, so it’s important to make sure that the caramel has definitely reached the right temperature.
This took us about 30 minutes, so not to worry if it takes ages for you as well! Once it gets there, remove from the heat and mix in the ale syrup and the salt. Place on a lined, grease baking tray to cool.
Place pretzel rods on top and allow to cool.
Cool overnight, then cut into slices. The caramel does ooze a bit, so I would separate the pieces after cutting them.
I received a copy to review from Running Press, but all opinions are my own.