Thursday, October 27, 2011

EXPOSED: The Salted Caramel Trend

I woke up in a French mood this morning – a.k.a. my excuse to have a croissant and an espresso for breakfast. So, I went to my “local” coffee shop, Starbucks.

I gazed up at this seasons Starbucks specials and a salted caramel mocha made eyes with me back. After filling up my frequent buyer card from Pinkberry's salted caramel ice cream this past summer, I decided to pass on the salted caramel mocha in fear of another detrimental addiction. Later that day, as I went shopping at my local market, I passed by Stonewall’s Dark Chocolate Sea Salt Caramel Sauce.  I needed to get to the bottom of this salted caramel craze.

By a very “credible” source, the Twitter, one would conclude #saltedcaramel is undeniably “trending.”  A cultural phenomenon - the seductive alliance of salt + caramel has taken over mainstream America. The luxuriously rich taste and decadently creamy texture of caramel combined with its refined, spicy, and devilish ally, salt, magically makes a once coating dessert no longer feel as gluttonous.

So where did this salted caramel trend come from you ask?

- WHERE is Bretagne (Brittany), France.
- WHO is Henri Le Roux who in trademarked C.B.S. ® in 1981. C.B.S standing for Caramel-Buerre-Sale (Caramel-Butter-Salt). 

{MUCH LONGER ANSWER}: Brittany, where the salted caramel trend originated, is located in the northwestern region of France, on the Atlantic Ocean. 
First lets start with the “sale” (salt) part. Way, way, WAY back in the day - for arguments sake, lets say when the earth was formed (reportedly) - the Guérande salt ponds, that exist today, were part of a bay in the Atlantic Ocean. As the water level gradually lowered over time, they left behind a sanctuary of pools. With the combination of high winds and beaming sun, the area’s climate fostered the perfect habitat for salts existence. Today, chefs everywhere praise this salt, the Fleur de Sel Guérande, as one of the best in the world; and given the fact the amount of care and labor that goes into harvesting this salt by hand, I am not surprised.

Now, for the “buerre” (butter). Along with the salt, Brittany is also well known for its salted butter – what do you know! Let me be clear though, this is not just any old, run of the mill Land O’Lakes butter. This butter is so creamy and rich; I would put it on a cheese board if I could. But the brilliance of it doesn’t even stop there – they then add crunchy and delicate tasting salt crystals. When I was in Paris earlier this month I was fortunate to try Jean Yves Bordier’s butter aka Bordier Butter which comes from a town in northern Britttany called St. Malo. 

Bordier butter out on the counter during my visit to L'Avant Comptoir in Paris. YUM!

Bordier has become a salivating adjective in my life. I ate an entire ramekin by myself my last night in Paris at Guy Savoy (don’t judge me). 

My truffle butter + porcini brioche from Guy Savoy.

If you are ever in France, you MUST do whatever it takes to search out Bordier butter. And once you find it, you MUST smuggle some back for me (Disclaimer: sarcasm). But I digress. Now time for how the C.B.S. all came together….

Henri Le Roux's Cookbook
When Henri Le Roux moved to Brittany, he opened his own chocolate and ice cream shop. In order to gain notoriety, to him, the obvious plan was to do combine some of the regions most prized items – salt and butter. So, he created a caramel highlighting Brittany’s butter and Fleur de Sel. 
As more people tried this thrilling creation, and after winning the “Best Candy of France” at the 1980 International Trade Fair for Confectionary, buzz spread far and wide and the rest ….is history!

Stay tuned for my SALTED CARAMEL BREAD PUDDING RECIPE – I will be posting it by the end of this week!

Bon appétit!


Anonymous said...

can't wait for the bread pudding!!

Anonymous said...

The Elvis chocolate cupcake looks
pretty good too!! HG