Each week, we drive to nearby Bend, Oregon and pick up our gallon of fresh, raw milk. It comes in a glass jar and you can clearly see the thick, off-white cream that’s risen to the top. Yum.
Often, I’ll come home and divide the milk into two half-gallon milk jugs (well, I get to it eventually anyway), making it much easier for our littles to pour and for Ian to take some to work when he has a shift.
Sometimes, though, I’ll skim off the cream and save it for something special, like homemade whipped cream or caramel sauce.
Homemade Whipped Cream
The former is a family favorite and my kids love the process of turning plain ol’ cream into sweet, soft white peaks they can’t wait to get their hands on. The process is simple and, if you’ve only got a few spare minutes, that’s plenty of time to make your own delicious homemade whipped cream.
- 1 cup whipping cream (use what you get from your herdshare, or pick up some whipping cream from the store)
- 3 Tbsp powdered sugar (I like to put evaporated can juice in my Blendtec and turn it into powder)
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
I like to whip up my cream in a metal bowl – the one you find on a Kitchen Aid stand mixer. If you don’t have a stand mixer (we don’t in the bus), you can use a metal bowl and a handheld mixer (you could also use a whisk if you have a lot of spare time and are in need of an arm workout).
Place the metal bowl in the freezer for about 10 minutes so it can get nice and cold before you add the cream.
Once it’s chilled, remove the bowl from the freezer and pour in your cream. Place the beaters inside the bowl and turn on your mixer. Start slowly, or use some kind of shield so you don’t end up with cream all over yourself.
After a minute or two of beating the cream on medium high, you should notice it starting to thicken. This is when I stop the mixer and add the powdered sugar and vanilla. Once added, turn the mixer back on and keep mixing for a couple more minutes.
Once you have soft white peaks, stop mixing. If you go too long, you’ll end up with butter.
Homemade Caramel Sauce
I love that the a few simple ingredients can be combined in such way to make a sweet, sometimes salty, concoction that can be added to everyday foods to make them extra special. Coffee. Apple slices. Oatmeal. If whipped cream can reasonably be added to the mix, even better.
Thankfully, making caramel sauce with a few real food ingredients is something easily done (though you can’t have any distractions – I’m looking at you, Facebook). All I have to do is get some cream, sugar and pull some butter out of my fridge. I can do that. (And I do, much too often).
- 3/4 cups cream
- 1 cup sugar (I use evaporated cane juice)
- 1/4 cup water
- 4 Tbsp unsalted butter (cut into 4 equal chunks)
- 1 tsp sea salt (optional)
Leave your butter and cream on the counter, or on your stove, for about an hour before you get started. I’ve found that using cream that’s not super cold makes things a bit easier.
In a medium sauce pan, add the sugar and water and stir with a whisk until it’s dissolved. Put it on a burner set to medium high heat.
For the next five minutes or so, your eyes will be glued to this pan, waiting for the perfect time to remove it from heat (you will also be restraining yourself from stirring as you’ll end up with something entirely different than what you’re trying to make if you give in).
Just watch the sugar water bubble and once you see the edges begin to turn from gold to light amber, get ready to act, because things can go bad really fast. (Seriously, stay away from Facebook while you’re doing this. And you should probably just hide your phone.)
Once everything is amber and you see a darker amber color beginning to infiltrate from the edges, remove the pan from heat and slowly add the cream. Be careful as it will bubble and make some steam!
Stir quickly so that everything mixes together well, and add the butter, one chunk at a time (then add salt, if you want salted caramel sauce). Mix well.
Quickly move the finished sauce to a glass jar/dish so it can cool, snap a picture for Instagram or Facebook (it’s ok to get back on now) and use a spatula to scrape the remaining caramel sauce from the pan.
Consider what you scrape off to be a reward for your intense concentration and ability to burn sugar just enough that you get a beautiful, delicious treat.