Remember that song “Red Red Wine”? You know, “Red red wine…stay close to me…don’t let me be in love…” (Not gonna lie, that’s all I remember.) You know what I associate with that song? Sitting in my dad’s car (a lovely, hunter green Aerostar mind you), on the way to the YMCA for an Indian Princesses meeting (yes, they eventually realized that name was ridiculously politically incorrect), eating a Kraft Handi-Snack – the ones with the fake cheese and the red plastic spreaders. We listened to Mix 102.9 a lot, and they seemed to love that song. I can almost taste the bright orangey-yellow “cheese” when I hear it.
I’m going to go out on a limb and say that this caramel is way better than a Kraft Handi-Snack. I found it when I was looking through some recipes on Food & Wine. They recommended serving it with a sweet potato tart, and while I wasn’t in the mood for a whole tart production, I was definitely in the mood to put the rest of a bottle of red to good use. (Good use obvs also would have been to just drink the wine, but it was approximately 11AM.)
Now, let’s talk about this caramel for a minute. The finished product is not thick like you might imagine caramel sauce to be. It’s more like a syrup consistency. I think this is probably for the best because you don’t want it to be overpowering. It’s also really simple to make. Yes, caramel can always be a little bit tricky. I’ve definitely had my share of thinking, “Amber color? Almost there…almost…closer…and BURNED caramel.” But I’ll include some timing tips and some pics, so maybe it will be a little easier on you. One very important note: you have to use a wine you like! There are 3 ingredients in this stuff people. If you don’t like one of the ingredients on its own, you won’t like it in the caramel (we’ll just go ahead and assume everyone likes sugar and water). I used a tannat from our very own (i.e. local, not mine) Brushy Creek Vineyards. It’s a soft, yet heavy, slightly dry red with a little bit of earthiness to it. That soft, earthy quality comes through in the caramel. It tastes like grapes, but not artificially so…like the way grapes are supposed to taste. Sweet and yummy and pleasant.
I drizzled some of the sauce over roasted pears last night, but I’m imagining it over a dark chocolate ganache tart. Or brownies. Or ice cream. Or a simple, unfrosted chocolate cake. Maybe even used for caramel popcorn?!?! I’m getting ahead of myself. Here’s the recipe already:
Red Wine Caramel
Makes about 3/4 cup
3/4 cup granulated sugar
2 TBS water
3/4 cup red wine
1. Place the sugar and the water in a medium saucepan. Stir gently to combine. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat, brushing down the insides of the saucepan with a moistened pastry brush.
2. Without stirring or swirling the pan, cook over medium-high heat for about 6 minutes until a pale amber color develops in the caramel.
3. Remove the pan from the heat and carefully add the red wine. Be careful here! The caramel will bubble a lot because of the differences in temperature. Cook, stirring to dissolve the hardened caramel, until it is slightly reduced, about 4 minutes.
4. Transfer the caramel to a pitcher or glass jar and serve warm. It can be refrigerated (tightly covered) for up to 1 month. Bring caramel to room temperature or warm before serving.
Recipe from Food & Wine
If you’re hungry for more info about caramel, check out this tutorial at My Baking Addiction!
How do YOU think the red wine caramel could be put to good use? Thanks for reading, happy baking!