Over the past few years, my wonderful boyfriend has opened my eyes to the amazing world of craft beer. For years, I swore I did not like beer. Probably because I had only ever tried the mass produced, tasteless crap. But he was a budding craft beer fanatic when I met him, and eventually curiosity got the best of me, and I tried a few. And then a few more. And then we found ourselves going to craft beer festivals, while he took up home brewing with one of his good friends. Soon enough we were searching out all of the unique brews we could find. It’s an amazing world out there for craft beer – so many different styles and flavours to try. And while I don’t think I will ever find love for the bitterness of an IPA, I have come to appreciate many different styles. Not surprisingly, some of my favourites are the dark, full bodied porters and stouts.
When his birthday came around last month, I wanted to make a treat for the party we were having. And I knew I wanted to find a way to incorporate one of the many bottles of beer from our ever growing collection (we often joke that our fridge represents us perfectly – full of vegetables and beer). Then I remembered having a fabulous beer caramel pie from Home Sweet Home a while back, and knew that was what I was going to make.
Now, you can use any beer you want for a beer caramel, but I wanted this to pack a serious flavour punch, so I chose a chocolate pumpkin porter from a local BC brewery (Parallel 49 in Vancouver, BC). If you pick a lighter tasting beer, your caramel will be mostly flavoured from the sugar, butter, and cream, and not from the beer, and really, what’s the point in using the beer then, right? And this one was a great choice – it made for a rich, dark caramel, with hints of chocolate, balanced out with the slight bitterness that all beers have. Not only was it tasty on our birthday party treats, but it makes for an amazing ice cream topping.
I also imagine it would be great on waffles, crepes, drizzled over pumpkin pie, mixed into coffee or hot chocolate, spooned right into your mouth…let your imagination go wild! It’s fairly easy to make – you just need to pay attention so you don’t burn the caramel. I recommend having a candy thermometer, as it makes it so much easier – and gives you a reason to make candies and fudge as well! And if you are still looking for some last minute gift inspiration, why not make a batch for that beer lover on your list? Because trust me, it is beer lover approved.
Chocolate Beer Caramel Sauce
makes about 2 cups
Craft beer is amazing for drinking, but also great for culinary delights. Turn your favourite chocolate porter or stout into a jar of sticky, sweet, delicious beer caramel. Drizzle over cake, ice cream, waffles, or in your morning coffee – the possibilities are endless. You’ll wonder what took you so long to get experimenting with beer in the kitchen!
- 1 bottle (341 mL or 12 oz) chocolate porter or stout
- 2 tbsp butter
- 1 1/2 cup brown sugar
- 1 cup heavy cream
- 1 tsp vanilla
- pinch of salt
1. In a medium saucepan, bring the beer to a gentle boil over medium heat. Cook, stirring, until it has reduced to 1 cup, approximately 10 minutes.
2. Add the butter and brown sugar, and cook until thick and syrupy, approximately 10 – 12 minutes. Only stir the mixture if it looks like it’s going to boil over. If you are using a candy thermometer, it should be at the soft ball stage (240 degree F or 115 degrees C). Otherwise to test for doneness, drop a small amount into cold water, and if it forms a soft ball, it’s done.
3. Slowly stir in the cream and cook until it thickens, approximately 5 minutes.
4. Remove from heat, and stir in vanilla and salt. Allow the caramel to cool, then transfer to a jar. Will keep in the fridge indefinitely.
Note: The quality of your caramel will be greatly influenced by the quality of your beer, so splurge on some good stuff. And feel free to experiment with other flavours/styles of beer. An espresso stout would be great, as would any fruit or spiced dark beer.
Are you into craft beer? What are some of your faves? Any good beer recipes? Oh yeah, and stay tuned for the recipe for those birthday treats you might have noticed in the photos.