Caramel Sundaes with Grey Salt


For as long as I’ve had the faculty of memory, and for as long as he was alive, my Grandad ate butterscotch or caramel sundaes for dessert. Sometimes it was a variation on the theme; bananas sautéed with butter and brown sugar (add some rum, stick a match to them and you could call it bananas Foster) were the biggest request when my Grandma was gone and my mom went to stay with him. It’s difficult to imagine anything simpler or more of a comfort than bananas sautéed in butter and sugar and spooned over ice cream or warm pancakes or wrapped in a crepe.

On regular weeknights he had vanilla ice cream with butterscotch marble, or a dish of plain vanilla with butterscotch or caramel syrup drizzled over top. During one visit my Dad attempted to impose his own healthy eating habits on him; since Grandad never dished out his own ice cream – my Grandma would go serve it up while he stayed in his usual seat at the end of the table, so that behind him you could see the Detroit river and behind that, a sparkling, towering downtown – I was sent out of the kitchen to the dining room with a dish of a sugarless vanilla frozen soy product doused with extra caramel to disguise its inauthenticity. I’m not sure why he thought we’d get away with it. We didn’t.

I heart caramel. I really do, and yet I’m never inclined to order a caramel sundae. I just don’t think of it in the face of chocolate or hot fudge. But when I do get a taste, I adore it. Remembering this, and my Grandad (who lived to be 94), I made a batch of caramel sauce – tweaking a recipe for chewy fleur de sel caramels – and bought a tub of vanilla ice cream. (I couldn’t make the ice cream from scratch too – I just couldn’t. I knew in my gut that it would cause me to eat the entire batch of both if I did.)
I drizzled the caramel sauce over the ice cream and sprinkled it with salt – flaky pink salt from the Himalayas that N brought me a jar of, and then I tried a bite with a pinch of crackly Maldon salt, and then grey salt. You know, for research purposes. Hey, I can’t help it – it’s my job.

That pants falling down business? I nipped it right in the bud.


Caramel Sauce with Grey (or other nice) Salt

Recipe link


August 16, 2009

This keeps very well in the fridge, but it's a large batch - enough for an extra jar to share with someone you really, really like.

  • Makes: Makes about 3 cups.


1 cup golden syrup (Roger’s or Lyle’s - I used Roger’s)

2 cups sugar

1/4 tsp. salt

a few drops lemon juice

2 cups cream - whipping cream (35%), coffee cream (18%) or half & half (10%), or a combination

2 Tbsp. butter

1 tsp. pure vanilla

good, flaky salt - fleur de sel, Maldon, pink - for serving with


1In a heavy saucepan, combine the syrup, sugar, salt and lemon juice and cook over medium heat, stirring until the sugar dissolves completely and the mixture begins to simmer around the edges. Wash any sugar and syrup from the sides of the pan with a pastry brush dipped in water. Cover and cook for about 3 minutes.

2Uncover the pan, attach a candy thermometer to the edge and and cook uncovered, without stirring, swirling the pan once in awhile until the mixture reaches 305°F. Meanwhile, bring the cream to a simmer in a small saucepan; turn off the heat and set aside.

3When the sugar mixture reaches 305°F, turn off the heat and stir in the butter, then whisk in the hot cream; it will bubble up and steam. Turn the burner back on and bring the mixture to a boil, stirring. Remove from the heat and set aside to cool completely.

4Store in the fridge; when ready to serve, reheat (if you like) and drizzle over ice cream, cake or your finger; sprinkle lightly with flaky salt immediately before serving.

Makes: Makes about 3 cups.

One Year Ago: Peach Pie and Roasted Peach & Brown Sugar Ice Cream


About Julie

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30 comments on “Caramel Sundaes with Grey Salt

  1. Robyn in Mountain (Ontario that is)
    August 17, 2009 at 5:29 am

    Hi Julie! Thanks for a great caramel sauce recipe! I heart caramel too :-)

  2. robin
    August 17, 2009 at 5:33 am

    yes, please.

  3. Cheryl Arkison
    August 17, 2009 at 5:56 am

    Whenever I have a craving for vanilla ice cream and caramel (which is far too often) I slice a banana overtop to make myself think it is healthier. Works for me!

    What also works is simply making salted caramel ice cream. Finished another batch of that last night. Thankfully we had company so I really only had one bowl. One incredibly large bowl with dark chocolate dropped on top.

  4. Cheryl Arkison
    August 17, 2009 at 5:57 am

    PS I love the idea of heating the cream so your caramel doesn’t instantly harden and you have to wait for it to melt again.

  5. thepinkpeppercorn
    August 17, 2009 at 5:59 am

    Looks so lovely, and must be extra-extra lovely with a touch of salt. Super caramelly – yum!

  6. Rebecca
    August 17, 2009 at 6:17 am

    Julie, do you think this could be shipped? Or would it need to be kept cold? Tis the season for sending care packages to college students…

  7. Erica B.
    August 17, 2009 at 6:54 am

    ooooh my. If I wasn’t moving this week I’d be going into the kitchen to make that sauce right this minute.

  8. Reeni
    August 17, 2009 at 7:53 am

    What a sweet story about your Granddad. I love salted caramel – this looks like a decadent treat!

  9. KateK
    August 17, 2009 at 8:25 am

    Rebecca, I would be happy to test whether the sauce holds up to shipping :) Wish I’d gotten care pkgs like that when I was at school!

  10. Nancy
    August 17, 2009 at 10:27 am

    Oh Lordy Lordy that looks good. The rare times I get ice cream from the ice cream truck with the kids (hardly ever since my WW leader told me they make it with LARD), I get a caramel dip. So yum!! Wonder if you can make this drunk like the Browned Butter Bliss that you Can Make Drunk (as I told you, my new name for it) :)

  11. Pat
    August 17, 2009 at 12:22 pm

    Nancy, speaking of WW..have you tried Chapman’s frozen “Yogurt Plus”? My favourite is Creme Carmel with Sticky Toffee~~~~~1/2 cup is 150 calories, 2 g fat, and 7 GRAMS of FIBRE! (2 points)

  12. Dana McCauley
    August 17, 2009 at 3:21 pm

    Holy moly! How can it actually look even more delicious than it sounded when you tweeted about it last night?

  13. Nancy
    August 17, 2009 at 4:57 pm

    Thanks Pat! I haven’t but I’ve seen ads for it – looks delish! I will do so, I’ve not only been off the WW wagon, I’ve been dragged behind it with a wine bottle in one hand and a wheel of brie in the other. Oh well, there’s always Sept.! :)

  14. Carolann
    August 17, 2009 at 6:11 pm

    Julie – have you tried using just sweetened condensed milk. Friend used to just put in a pot of water a boil it for a while however I find
    that too risky. You can pour the condensed milk into a pie plate cover with foil and put that plate in a larger shallow pan filled with hot water and bake it at 425 degrees for about one and one half hours until it’s thick and then beat it until it’s smooth. Not sure if this is lower in fat and calories or not but seems simple enough.

  15. JulieVR
    August 17, 2009 at 6:12 pm

    Yes – dulce de leche! Yummy! But not quite the same…

  16. ajdoula
    August 17, 2009 at 6:46 pm

    Hey Julie – your family is from Windsor? I’m from Sarnia – ws just there last weekend.

  17. JulieVR
    August 17, 2009 at 7:07 pm

    Cool! Yes, my parents are from Windsor – my Dad originally from Belgium – I was born in London, Ontario and moved here just before grade 2!

  18. ajdoula
    August 17, 2009 at 7:14 pm

    I just spent the last week on Stag Island – across from Corunna, up the St Clair. Small world…

  19. Charmian Christie
    August 18, 2009 at 3:55 am

    Ooh, this looks good. I’m into salted caramel ice cream but it’s uber-soft. This sauce might the the answer.

  20. Bellini Valli
    August 18, 2009 at 3:58 am

    I heart caramel too:D

  21. micah
    August 18, 2009 at 4:11 am

    found you through Christie’s Corner. Love your tip on chewing gum, gonna try that! Great recipes and ideas!

  22. Pat
    August 18, 2009 at 5:36 am

    Did I miss the “brilliant food product”? I am waiting with bated breath to hear what it is!

  23. Kate
    August 18, 2009 at 6:25 am

    What a wonderful Grandad memory. If still alive my friend, Sheryl’s mom would have celebrated her 100th birthday this past Sunday. Her favorite dish was iceberg lettuce with homemade Thousand Island dressing. Sheryl celebrated her mom’s memory with a lunch of just that. I think I may celebrate your dear Grandad’s memory tonight!

  24. rea
    August 18, 2009 at 7:21 am

    my grandma loved garlic chicken wings and, for someone so thin, had the ability to munch through large batches. i should make some in her memory. thanks for reminding me.

  25. Erin M
    August 18, 2009 at 6:51 pm

    I just gained 10 pounds reading that recipe…:P

  26. S&J
    August 22, 2009 at 8:05 am

    An Itialian version is to add 3T of expresso on top of the ice cream and carmel. WOW!

  27. Sam@BingeNYC
    August 23, 2009 at 7:37 am

    Yummm. My favorite treat is dark chocolate-covered salted-carmel. I must try this recipe soon – looks incredible!

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