Every year we throw an ice cream party, where guests bring their favorite flavors of ice cream along with toppings to create an ice cream buffet. Unfortunately, once the wreckage is cleared away we find ourselves with an excess of high-calorie, high-sugar treats in the form of sauces, crumbled cookies, and candy– what to do with them?
I managed to use up a lot of the leftovers, but one bottle of storebought “caramel flavored syrup” remained stubbornly in our refrigerator. I usually make my own caramel sauce (deeply caramelized, and hit with a generous pinch of salt), but I thought I’d try my hand at doctoring up the storebought stuff, just to see what would happen.
I emptied the bottle into a small saucepan and brought it to a boil. Then I added about half a teaspoon of kosher salt and let it continue boiling for 10 minutes. It thickened and darkened significantly, which I took as a good sign.
The flavor still lacked the slightly bitter notes of a true caramel, but it was less syrupy-sweet than it was originally. I stirred in a pat of butter to enrich it a little, and let it cool. I probably could’ve let it caramelize even further and then added some cream to loosen it back up, but I wasn’t sure how the chemicals and other preservatives in the topping would react to further heating, so I left well enough alone.
The finished topping was definitely thicker and more flavorful than the original (see below for color and texture comparison), but honestly it wasn’t nearly as good as homemade caramel sauce.
I ended up using it in some salted caramel rice krispie treats, which turned out reasonably well– but I probably wouldn’t keep it to use for a fancy dessert.
Anyway, I got to use up something I otherwise would just have thrown away, and it was worth a shot!