You know what takes someone from being a good cook to an excellent cook? Knowing how and when to use salt. And guess what? It’s one of the most budget-friendly cooking techniques you can use too. ;) Salt isn’t just about “saltiness”, it actually helps your tongue distinguish different flavors. So you’ll often hear me talking about adding a bit of salt at the end of a recipe to really make the flavors “pop.” But, as I learned at the recent Next Door Chef event hosted by Morton Salt, salt can do so much more. I created this recipe for Homemade Salted Caramel Iced Coffee inspired by the techniques that I learned at the Next Door Chef event to show you how a little bit of salt used in just the right way can make a huge difference in your recipes. Huge thanks to Morton Salt for hosting an amazing event and supporting my work through sponsoring this blog post!
Homemade Salted Caramel Iced Coffee
The Next Door Chef event paired acclaimed New Orleans chef, Nina Compton of Compère Lapin restaurant, with a local New Orleans resident to create a pop up restaurant with a menu highlighting the different ways salt can be used to elevate a dish. It was seriously one of the coolest events I’ve ever been to! The menu was to die for and I learned so much about salt, which seems so simple and unassuming, but is truly transformative for food. You can check out video of the event and get all the amazing recipes that were served at the Next Door Chef website.
One of the dishes I was most enamored with at the event was the Americano Cocktail (haha, of course I loved the cocktail). Morton Fine Sea Salt was used in the cocktail to dampen the bitterness of the coffee and accentuate the herbaceous flavors of the liqueur. I ran with that concept for my Homemade Caramel Iced Coffees to make sure the coffee was smooth and bitter-free. Salt also juxtaposes and magnifies sweetness, making this icy treat even more decadent. I used Morton Fine Sea Salt for this drink because the fine texture dissolves easily into the hot caramel, making sure it stays free of grit.
I’ve also included the recipe for the Americano Cocktail at the bottom of this post for anyone who wants to check that out as well. ;)
Homemade Salted Caramel Iced Coffee
- 1 cup granulated sugar
- 1/4 cup water
- 3/4 cup heavy cream
- 3 Tbsp butter*
- 1/2 tsp fine sea salt
- 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
- 5-6 cups strong coffee
- To make the salted caramel, add the granulated sugar and water to a heavy bottomed sauce pot. Place the pot over medium-high heat and stir until the sugar is dissolved and it begins to boil. Turn the heat down to medium-low and allow the sugar to boil, without stirring, until it turns a deep amber color (about 7-10 minutes).
- Once the sugar turns deep amber, remove it from the heat immediately, as it can go from caramelized to burned rather quickly. Whisk in the heavy cream until smooth (if the caramelized sugar clumps from the cold cream, simply return the pot to very low heat and whisk until it has dissolved in). Whisk in the butter, salt, and vanilla extract.
- Allow the caramel to cool (it will thicken considerably as it cools). This batch of caramel makes about 10 ounces and can stay refrigerated for up to 3 weeks.
- To make the Salted Caramel Iced coffee, place about 2 Tbsp of the salted caramel in the bottom of a mug or heat safe cup. Add 8 ounces strong coffee and stir until the caramel has dissolved.
- Fill a separate serving glass with ice (if desired, drizzle more caramel inside the glass first). Pour the coffee and caramel mixture over the ice. Serve immediately, or add a splash of milk or cream, and a small pinch of sea salt.
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Step by Step Photos
Making homemade salted caramel is a fast process, so I like to gather my ingredients before I begin. You’ll need 1 cup granulated sugar, 1/4 cup water, 3/4 cup heavy cream, 3 Tbsp butter, 1/2 tsp fine sea salt, and 1/2 tsp vanilla extract.
Add 1 cup sugar and 1/4 cup water to a heavy bottomed sauce pot.
Place the pot over medium-high heat and stir constantly until the sugar dissolves and the mixture begins to boil. Once the sugar is fully dissolved, turn the heat down to medium-low and allow it to continue to boil without stirring until it turns a deep amber color (about 7-10 minutes). Once it reaches this color, remove it from the heat IMMEDIATELY. Sugar can pass from caramelized to burned rather quickly. If you’re worried, take it off the heat when it’s even slightly lighter than this.
Whisk in 3/4 cup heavy cream until the mixture is smooth. If the caramelized sugar seizes up from the cold cream, place the pot back over low heat and whisk continually until it dissolves in, then remove it from the heat again.
Whisk in 3 Tbsp butter, 1/2 tsp salt, and 1/2 tsp vanilla extract. The caramel is now done! If you decide to taste it at this point, be very VERY careful. Molten sugar is hotter than it seems and will burn you badly.
The caramel will be quite runny while it’s hot, but will thicken up as it cools. You can keep this in your refrigerator for about 3 weeks (and have many delicious coffees!).
To make each Homemade Salted Caramel Iced Coffee, add 2 Tbsp of the caramel to a mug or heat proof container and add 8 oz. strong coffee. Stir until the caramel is dissolved. Because the caramel contains heavy cream and butter, the coffee will already be quite creamy!
For extra effect, you can drizzle more caramel inside the glasses you’ll be serving the iced coffee in. Fill the serving glass with ice cubes (larger chunks are better than crushed because they don’t melt quite as quickly and will not dilute your drink). Pour the coffee-caramel mixture over the ice cubes.
You can serve the drink as-is, or finish it off with a splash of milk and another small pinch of salt. Either way, they’re GREAT.
I’m not sure how to price these puppies because coffee can be really confusing to break down (beans to grounds to brewed?), but I’ll bet you $5 that they’re at least half the cost of what you’d pay in a coffee shop for a Salted Caramel Iced Coffee!!
So back to that cocktail…
This is a photo of the bar tender at the Next Door Chef event preparing three of those amazing Americano Cocktails. Don’t forget, you can get the rest of the recipes from the dinner, and check out video of the event at the Next Door Chef site. Also check out my Salt & Vinegar Roasted Potatoes with Smoky Garlicky Mayo, which was also inspired by the techniques I learned at this event.
And here is the finished beauty. MMmm-mmm.
1 oz. Campari
1 oz. Sweet vermouth
1 1/2 oz. Cold-brew coffee
1 Orange, cut into wheels
1 cup Ice, crushed
Dash of Morton Fine Sea Salt
- Swizzle or stir the ingredients over crushed ice in a tall glass.
- 2. Garnish with a fresh orange wheel.
Morton Fine Sea Salt is often used in bitter cocktails to make the herbaceous quality come out, without being overly bitter. The salt helps tone down the bitter of both the campari and the coffee, making a smooth and refreshing cocktail.