I'm surprised I agreed so quickly as making caramel has always scared me and I've failed at it many times but, this was surprisingly easy. I used the basic recipe from Joy of Cooking (the bible) except replaced the water with beer. Wanting to make sure the beer and cherry flavor was quite strong in the finished caramel we reduced the beer from 1 pint, 6 ounces down to 3/4 cup. What we ended up with was a caramel sauce that had that caramelized sugar flavor as well as the maltiness of the beer, the sour tang that we loved in the beer and the fruity cherry flavor. It was amazing over some vanilla ice cream with chocolate chunks.
Transatlantique Kriek Caramel Sauce
1 bottle Transatlantique Kriek (1 pt 6 oz)
1 c white sugar
Pour the Kriek into a large heavy sauce pan. Let simmer until reduce until about 3/4 cup, about 1 hour.
Pour the reduced beer out of the pan. Add in the sugar & 6 tablespoons of the reduced beer. Turn the heat to medium-high. Stir gently until the sugar is melted. Turn the heat to high & bring to a boil. Cover & let boil for 2 minutes. Remove the cover & let boil until the sides start to turn brown & the carmel darkens to a dark amber color, another minute or two. The caramel will be really foamed up so it will be hard to see the color. I stirred it down from time to time to check.
Remove from heat. Carefully pour in the remaining beer, it will sputter & foam up. Stir until smooth. It will seem a little thin but as it cools it should thicken to about a thick honey texture.
If it is still too thin bring to a boil for another 30 - 60 seconds. Store in the refrigerator for up to 6 months.
Makes about 1 cup.
Next we wanted to do more with the sauce than just serve it over ice cream (though it certainly would have been easy to eat it all that way). I thought about a sauce for bread pudding or perhaps drizzled on a cheesecake but, once again, Matt came up with the answer, caramel rolls.
Seriously, look at how decadent those look (especially since we had them for a Wednesday morning breakfast).
I made up the recipe for the dough after looking at lots of different versions online and in cookbooks. It comes together quickly and after rising is easy to roll out and work. Once baked it is surprisingly light which is good since it's covered in caramel. You can make these the day you plan to serve them or, even better, make them the day before then, refrigerate after the second rise. In the morning, you only need to cook them for 20 minutes and you have a special treat for breakfast. Sticky, sweet, just a touch of sour, crunchy from the almonds...heavenly.
Transatlantique Kriek Caramel Rolls
(This recipe doesn't take a lot of hands on time but it does have two rises of an hour each.)
1 1/2 t yeast
2 T milk
2 T water
2 T sugar
1/2 t kosher salt
1 1/2 c all-purpose flour
1 T unsalted butter, softened
1 egg white
Put the yeast in a bowl. Mix the milk & water together in a small microwavable bowl. Heat until warm but not hot (took about 20 seconds on high in my microwave). Pour over the yeast & let sit for 5 minutes. Mix in the sugar, salt & 1 cup of flour. Add the butter & egg white. Knead in the remaining flour, a little at a time until the dough is no longer sticky. Cover with a clean dish towel & let rise until double in size, about 1 hour.
1 T unsalted butter melted
1/3 c Transatlantique Kriek Caramel Sauce
Roll the dough out into a 10" x 8" rectangle on a floured board. Brush with the melted butter. Sprinkle generously with sugar & cinnamon. Sprinkle with slivered almonds.
Roll the rectangle up so, it is 8" long (you are rolling up from the short side). Use a bread knife & cut into 6 rolls.
Spread the caramel sauce in the bottom of a small baking dish, ours is about 6" x 9". Place the rolls on top cut-side down, evenly spaced. Make sure to leave a little room because they will rise to fill the space.
Cover with a kitchen towel & let rise until doubled in size again, about an hour. At this point you can bake or cover with plastic wrap & place in the fridge to bake later.
Preheat oven to 325 F. Bake the rolls for 20 - 25 minutes until golden brown. Quickly turn out of the pan onto a serving dish. Best served hot or warm.
Makes 6 rolls (but the recipe can be easily doubled & baked in a larger pan so why not whip up a batch for Easter brunch!)
*Discloser: As part of the Foodbuzz Tastemaker program we were given a stipend from New Belgium to cover the ingredients to create this dish.
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