What’s the best way to say I love you? With food, it seems – particularly the sweet, indulgent chocolate-caramel kind. Add red wine and you have a winner. This divine sauce is made by whisking reduced wine into freshly caramelized sugar, as you would normally do with heavy cream. The result is a thick, creamy caramel with a red wine twang, beautiful for pouring into jars for sweet Valentine’s day gifts. Or serve it up over a scoop of ice cream and/or chocolate cake for a V-day dessert in bed.
Although it’s rich and stunning, this caramel sauce is actually on the less indulgent side, having swapped the bulk of its butter and cream for reduced red wine. I stumbled upon it one day when I had exactly a cup of wine left over in a bottle sitting on the countertop – it made perfect use of it.
There’s no need for a candy thermometer to make this; simply cook the sugar mixture until it turns golden (caramelizes), then whisk in the already warm reduced wine. Voila!
Red Wine Caramel Sauce
Adapted from Gourmet, 2001, where it came from pastry chef Michael Laiskonis
1/2 vanilla bean, halved lengthwise with the tip of a sharp knife (optional)
1 cup full-bodied red wine
1 1/3 cups sugar
1/4 cup water
1 Tbsp. butter
If you’re using it, scrape the seeds from the halved vanilla bean into a small saucepan, then add the pod and wine. Simmer over medium heat until wine is reduced to about 1/2 cup, about 10 minutes. Discard the vanilla pod.http://blogs.babble.com/family-kitchen/2012/02/08/say-i-love-you-with-red-wine-caramel-sauce/
While the wine is reducing, bring sugar and water to a boil in a heavy medium saucepan set over medium-high heat, stirring until sugar is dissolved. Boil, without stirring, swirling the pan occasionally until syrup turns pale golden. Continue to cook caramel, swirling pan, until it turns deep golden. (This part happens quickly, so don’t walk away from the stove!)
Remove from heat, then carefully pour in the wine – the mixture will bubble and steam. Simmer, stirring, until any hardened bits dissolve and the sauce thickens, about 5 minutes. Stir in the butter and serve warm, or cool and pour into jars. Makes about 1 cup.