Last weekend, I again attended the Chicago Food Swap, even with the snow and nasty traffic. It’s so fun to see each month what everyone brings and to trade for some of the things that I would never make on my own – or just don’t have the time to do. This month, I brought two variations of my homemade granola (blueberry coconut and very berry cherry). I wanted to make something else, but inspiration just wasn’t striking me. It didn’t help that my Friday was unexpectedly shot, which is when I had planned to do some cooking or baking.
Finally, I decided to make some caramel sauce because it’s yummy and fairly quick, too. I didn’t want to just make “regular” caramel sauce and decided instead to make a citrus version of it to make it just a little more special – and hopefully more attractive to others at the swap, as well. It turns out beautifully, and my husband told me that I was more than welcome to not trade any of it.
While I didn’t listen to him, I did bring back one jar of it as well as a couple bags of my granola (I’d brought 5 of each item to trade this time) simply because there weren’t any more items I had to have. This time around, most of the items being traded were baked goods, which don’t appeal to me that much given that Little Miss can’t eat most of them and that we don’t eat that many desserts, so they go stale. That said, I did pick up some amazing vegan cinnamon rolls for Little Miss (saving me from making some for a brunch birthday party the next day, which I had already planned on doing so yay), as well as some homemade vegan Nutella that absolutely made her day.
I also found a couple of jams and preserves I was able to trade for, which we use in Mister Man’s Greek yogurt each morning, as well as lemon curd and chocolate raspberry spread. And of course, some tart cherry pie filling, which I plan to use to make dessert pierogies. Another swapper brought some quiche, so I traded breakfast for breakfast. I know it’s winter, but I was still sad to not see many pickles or mustards or preserves this time around. I’m definitely looking forward to more swaps as the weather warms up!
As for that orange caramel sauce? It was popular, and so tasty. I made it vegan this time around, as I wanted Little Miss to be able to have some were we to have any left over, but I can see adding a little butter to it to make it even richer and creamier. This recipe easily makes larger batches – I made a double batch when I made some for the food swap – if you’re looking to make some for gifts or to make jars for the future if you are fully canning them.
Orange Caramel Sauce
1 c sugar
1/4 c water
1 c orange juice, freshly squeezed and room temperature
zest of 1 orange
2 T butter (optional)
In a heavy saucepan, add the sugar and the water. Turn the heat up to high and bring to a boil, whisking just until the sugar is fully dissolved. Once the sugar is dissolved, do not stir again, as stirring will cause sugar crystals to form in your sauce. Instead, use a pastry brush dipped in cold water to periodically brush the sides of the pan to keep crystals from forming and attaching there.
While the sugar is boiling, zest your orange (I actually zested Cuties because they’re sweeter and a brighter color, but use whatever orange you have) then juice to get 1 cup of orange juice. Make sure it is room temperature and not cold. You could also use store bought orange juice in a pinch.
The sugar will start out clear. If you’re more comfortable, use a candy thermometer to watch your heat. The temperature should come up to just below the hard crack stage. Otherwise, simply watch the color of your caramel. It will stay clear then start changing. Once it starts darkening, it does darken quickly so watch it until it comes a light amber shade amidst the bubbles.
Remove the caramel from the heat and add the orange juice and whisk to incorporate, then return to the heat. If the orange juice is too cold, your caramel will seize, but don’t panic. Like much of cooking and baking, not panicking is key to your success. If the caramel seizes, continue to whisk it over the heat until the caramel dissolves again and the orange juice is fully incorporated.
Once the orange juice is incorporated, add the orange zest and whisk one last time to get it distributed throughout the caramel. Bring the caramel to a boil one last time, and let it boil for 5 minutes to reduce somewhat. It will be a bit foamy on top, but that will go away.
Once it is finished boiling, remove it from the heat. Either ladle into glass containers immediately or add the butter and whisk again until it’s fully mixed into the caramel, then ladle into glass jars. You could also use coconut oil, which would give it a slightly tropical feel.
You can process the caramel to can it, but that’s not my thing. Instead, I store my caramel in the fridge for up to 2 weeks, though it rarely lasts that long.
- 1 c sugar
- 1/4 c water
- 1 c orange juice
- zest of 1 orange
- 2 T butter
- In a heavy saucepan, add the sugar and the water. Turn the heat up to high and bring to a boil, whisking just until the sugar is fully dissolved.
- The sugar will start out clear. Boil until it reaches an amber color, The temperature should come up to 270 degrees.
- Remove the caramel from the heat and add the orange juice and whisk to incorporate, then return to the heat. If the orange juice is too cold, your caramel will seize. If that happens, continue to whisk it over the heat until the caramel dissolves again and the orange juice is fully incorporated.
- Once the orange juice is incorporated, add the orange zest and whisk again. Bring the caramel to a boil one last time, and let it boil for 5 minutes to reduce somewhat. It will be a bit foamy on top, but that will go away.
- Once it is finished boiling, remove it from the heat. Add the butter and whisk again until it's fully mixed into the caramel, then ladle into glass jars.
- Store the caramel in the fridge for up to 2 weeks.
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Nutrition Information:Yield: 10 Serving Size: 1/4 cup
Amount Per Serving:Calories: 117 Total Fat: 2g Saturated Fat: 1g Trans Fat: 0g Unsaturated Fat: 1g Cholesterol: 6mg Sodium: 19mg Carbohydrates: 25g Fiber: 0g Sugar: 23g Protein: 0g