Sweet & spicy pumpkin caramel made with pumpkin spice and pumpkin butter. This recipe uses the dry caramel method and yields a ‘sauce’ consistency. It’s a tasty caramel topping that’s fabulous on any and all fall-themed bakes: blondies, brownies, ice cream, cinnamon rolls, apple pies & galettes – the list goes on!
Well as you know I have a thing for flavored caramels: apple cider caramel is a favorite, with it’s tart apple undertones, speaking of tart this cranberry caramel that is maroon-hued is like a candy tart in the best way, and then I’ve done a peanut butter caramel and a pistachio butter caramel – because did you know that nut butters add this wonderful salty, creamy and nutty flavor?!
This one is sweeter, spicier and squarely belongs in fall: it’s got cinnamon, ginger, cloves, allspice and nutmeg, and we get a double dose of the spices by adding them ground up and through the pumpkin butter. Ok, wait…
It’s pumpkin that’s been pureed and cooked with some spices and sugar; all the spices you associate with pumpkin pie or ‘pumpkin spice’ plus some sweeteners (mine has honey). Often people eat it with breakfast foods like toast, pancakes and waffles. Because the pumpkin butter is cooked down it’s got less water in it, making ideal for adding to the caramel.
Sugar: Fine granulated. We’re using the dry caramel method here so it’s best to use something that will melt quickly.
Lemon: This isn’t a common caramel ingredient but I use it because the acid helps prevent the sugar from crystalizing. About a teaspoon of freshly juiced lemon. You can also use apple cider vinegar.
Heavy Cream: Or heavy whipping cream. It must be brought to room temperature. If it’s cold it will cause the caramel to seize.
Butter: Salted or unsalted will work here. I wouldn’t even worry about the added spice because there’s not much butter in the caramel and the
Pumpkin Butter: I use the trader joe’s pumpkin butter. If you’d like to make your own, find a recipe that yields a very smooth, shiny consistency like this one.
Pumpkin Spice: You can put this together yourself with a diy method (cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, allspice and cloves) or just buy a jar of pumpkin spice. I will say, if you are doing the diy method I think a freshly grated nutmeg would be a wonderful addition.
Salt: Fine sea salt. This caramel is SWEET so I think the salt is very necessary. If you’re using table salt don’t use as much less you make it overly salty.
Vanilla: Pure vanilla extract, scrapings of a vanilla bean or some vanilla bean paste. Not necessary but enhances the flavor quite a bit.
Start by placing a deep, medium sized heavy bottomed pot over low heat. Pour in the sugar.
Now squeeze some lemon over it, a few drops but enough to make about a teaspoon of juice.
Use a wooden spoon to stir the lemon juice into the sugar, until it’s kind of like wet sand.
Now turn the temperature to medium to medium-low and let the caramel cook. The higher the heat the more quickly it will melt and caramelize but you’re very likely to burn it.
Keep an eye on the caramel as it cooks, stirring every time you see some orange-ish liquid forming (these are usually the hot spots).
As the sugar melts it will start to turn amber colored. Once all the sugar is melted you might have some clumps of sugar, press on them with the back of a wooden spoon to encourage them to melt quicker.
Now, pour the heavy cream in – very slowly and mix as you do. The caramel is going to bubble up.
Once it calms down and all the heavy cream is in, add the pumpkin butter and the butter and stir.
As the butter melts, add the spices and the salt. Turn the heat to low. Once all the butter is melted, stir it and turn the heat off.
Off the heat, add the vanilla. It will bubble up slightly.
Let the caramel come to room temperature then pour into a sealable jar.
If the caramel is cold, it will be quite thick. You can warm it gently to make it pourable.
You can swirl it into some marshmallows like I’ve done here.
Sandwich it between two vanilla sugar cookies.
Spread it over some fluffy milk bread rolls.
Drizzle it over a bowl of ice cream.
Or use it in an apple galette or pie!
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