Ginger Caramel Sauce with Fresh Apple Slices

August 31, 2021

I’m torn between disbelief and excitement every year when apple season starts. The early part of this harvest season serves as a reminder that fall and winter are on their way, but it also holds some of my personal favorite apples. In order to highlight the fresh flavors of these fruits, try pairing some slices with this ooey gooey ginger caramel sauce.

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When apple season starts, it’s so easy to get pulled fully into all the amazing and delicious baked goods you can prepare. But when the first fruits are ripe and ready to pick, I just want to bite into them and enjoy everything they have to offer me. I’ll save my baking for some of the later season apples instead.

So naturally, what goes with fresh apple slices? Caramel dip of course! In this variation, I decided to play with a flavor that would add just a little bit of a spicy bite to pair with the delicate floral-ly sweet-tart apples of the early season. Ginger is lovely with caramel and with apples. Plus as it turns out, the three also make an excellent trio.

What You Need to Get Started

You can easily find all of the ingredients for this ginger caramel dip at your grocery store:

How to Make Ginger Caramel Sauce

I debated a few different ways to add the ginger flavor into this caramel sauce. In the end, I decided to go with a method that involves infusing some freshly grated ginger into the cream, which is added at the end of making caramel.

To get started on this recipe, you will want to prepare that mixture first, so it has time for the cream to absorb all of the spicy gingery flavor. To get the most surface area for infusing, use a microplane zester to grate fresh ginger.

If you’ve never worked with ginger before, a tip for peeling it is to use a spoon, which will help you rub off the skin without losing too much of the ginger flesh.

In a small bowl, stir the ginger and heavy cream together until they are combined, and all the ginger bits are submerged under the surface of the cream. Set this bowl aside for at least ten minutes to allow the fat of the cream to pick up the ginger flavor.

The ten-minute infusion time that I suggest in this recipe allows for a medium-strength ginger flavor to come through in the caramel, but it is not overpowering and does not have a strong bite. If you are a really big ginger fan, and want that extra bite, infuse for a longer time, up to half an hour.

While the cream and ginger are resting, you can start caramelizing the sugar. For this caramel sauce, we are using a two-step heating method. This means that you will first heat the sugar to caramelize it, and then heat the finished sauce again so it sets to the right consistency.

There are ways to make caramel without doing this, but I like the extra control that heating it twice gives me over the final product.

Combine the sugar, water, and corn syrup together in a small saucepan. The corn syrup here helps with avoiding crystallization of the sugar after the caramel cools. It’s not the high-fructose corn syrup that many people avoid, so don’t be scared away by the name.

Cook this mixture over medium heat, stirring it together until the sugar has dissolved. At that point, stop stirring, but continue heating the sugar to allow it to caramelize. It will begin to bubble and slowly change color.

The bubbles will get lazier and goopier as the caramel cooks, with the color darkening. Allow it to keep going until an instant-read thermometer registers 335°F. The caramel will be a light honey color at this point, but don’t worry, it will continue to darken up.

When it reaches this point, immediately turn off heat and add in the butter. It’s best to have your butter prepared ahead of this step. I like to cut it into slices, which allows it to melt into the caramel a bit faster.

At this point, you will also want to add in the cream that has been infusing. Pour it through a mesh strainer to catch any of the grated ginger. Allowing the ginger pieces into the caramel could lead to an undesirable texture. Filtering them out means you’ll have super smooth caramel.

If you’ve never made caramel before, you might not be expecting what happens next, so be careful. When you add the colder ingredients, like butter and cream to the hot sugar, the mixture will seize up, and begin to bubble violently.

Try not to let any get on your hands, and if it does, don’t put your fingers in your mouth! Instead, run them under warm water.

Stir the butter and cream into the sugar until it begins to calm down. Now, you are going to heat it for a second time, but this time it won’t be as hot. Keep stirring the caramel frequently, until your thermometer reads 230°F.

Turn off the heat, and then transfer the caramel to a glass jar, and allow it cool slightly. Removing it from the hot pot quickly allows the caramel to stop cooking. Temperatures are important to the texture of caramel, so if it gets much warmer, you may end up with caramel candies instead of sauce.

Just before serving, cut your apple slices. I designed this recipe to highlight the flavors of my favorite early season apples: Zestar! and Ginger Gold. However, it would also be delicious with Granny Smith apples, or any variety that is crisp and somewhat tart.

You can serve this warm in a small dish sprinkled with a pinch of flaky sea salt with the apple slices arranged on the side for dipping. Or if you are looking for something fancier, drizzle the caramel over the apple slices and add the sea salt on top.

If needed, you can store this ginger caramel sauce in a sealed jar in the fridge for up to two weeks. It may solidify, so microwave the caramel to your desired consistency before using it.

Are you ready for fall? A jar of this Ginger Caramel Sauce is the perfect way to enjoy all of the delicious apples you’ll be munching on this season!

How to Serve Ginger Caramel Sauce

I love the idea of this as an appetizer before an early fall brunch, featuring cinnamon pear and rum cocktails and cream cheese and nectarine stuffed french toast.

If you end up with extra caramel sauce, there are plenty of fun ways you can use it. Try it on top of rich and creamy coffee ice cream. You can also swap out ginger caramel for the caramels used in pecan coconut crusted french toast, pear and apple crisp, or caramel apple no-bake cheesecake.

Caramel sauce is super versatile, and the ginger makes this one extra fun. You can stir a spoonful into your coffee, dip cookies in this, or use it to coat your other favorite dippers like pears and cheddar cheese cubes.

More Apple Recipes

Apple season is coming at you fast, so here’s a few of my favorites to try:

Ginger Caramel Sauce with Fresh Apple Slices

A sweet dipping sauce with a slight spicy bite, thanks to fresh ginger, this caramel sauce pairs excellently with fresh fall apples.
Prep Time5 mins
Cook Time10 mins
Total Time15 mins
Course: Dessert, Snack
Cuisine: American
Servings: 8 oz
Calories: 167kcal

Ingredients

  • 1 Tbsp Fresh Ginger grated on a microplane zester
  • ¼ Cup Heavy Cream
  • ½ Cup Sugar
  • 1 Tbsp Corn Syrup
  • 2 Tbsp Water
  • 4 Tbsp Butter
  • pinch Flaky Sea Salt for serving
  • 4 Apples sliced, for serving

Instructions

  • In a small bowl, stir the ginger and heavy cream together until combined. Set aside for at least ten minutes to infuse while you prepare the rest of the caramel.
  • In a small saucepan, combined the sugar, water and corn syrup. Stir these together over medium heat, until the sugar has dissolved. Stop stirring, but continue heating until an instant-read thermometer registers 335°F
  • Immediately turn off heat and add in butter. Pour the infused cream through a fine mesh strainer into the saucepan as well. Note that the mixture will seize and bubble when you add these, so be careful.
  • Reheat on medium low, stirring frequently, until the temperature reaches 230°F. Transfer the caramel to a jar, and allow it cool to room temperature before storing.
  • Serve warm in a small dish sprinkled with flaky sea salt with apples on the side, or drizzle over fresh apple slices and add the sea salt on top for a fancier presentation.

Notes

  • Make ahead tip: Ginger caramel can be prepared in advance and stored in a sealed jar in the fridge for up to two weeks. If needed, microwave the caramel to your desired consistency before using.
  • Ginger flavor: The ten minutes suggested here allows for a medium-strength ginger flavor to come through in the caramel, but it is not overpowering and does not have a strong bite. Infuse for a longer time for more flavor, up to half an hour.
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