Inspired by the popularity of salted caramel as a flavor, I started wondering what it would taste like if you infused vodka with caramel candies and just a touch of salt. Sure, you can buy salted caramel flavored vodka off the shelf, but I prefer infusions because they keep the essence of the thing you’re infusing them with.
Turns out this is a really easy infusion. For each bottle you are making, you will need:
- 20 caramel candies (approximately 150 grams)
- 1 750 ml bottle of vodka
- Pinch of salt
For the caramels, I used First Street, which is the brand for the huge bags of candy they sell at Smart N Final, and they had a very good flavor and texture. For the vodka, I went with Three Olives because this recipe needs a vodka that’s smooth and drinkable on its own. For the salt, anything will do but I used sea salt from Trader Joe’s.
Related: Marshmallow Vodka Infusion
I started by counting out my caramels:
Then I unwrapped them and, looking at how narrow the neck of the vodka bottle is, I chopped each one in four. This also helps it infuse faster, because there’s more surface area for the vodka to touch.
Looking at them, I made a guess about how much of the vodka in the bottle they would displace, and poured myself a shot of vodka, which I enjoyed while I worked. It turned out this was exactly the right amount of vodka to pour out.
Then I stuffed the caramels into the bottle.
Once they’re all in, they tend to clump at the bottom of the bottle.
And now comes the shaking. Twist the lid on securely, and give it a really good thorough shaking to get started.
This is the least pretty stage of the whole thing. Don’t worry, because it gets much better looking later. Over the next few days, you’ll want to shake it periodically a few times a day to keep the process going. After three or four days, it’ll look like this all the time, and shaking won’t make any difference:
You could stop here, but I wasn’t wild about the white frothy stuff at the top. I’m not sure what it is, probably an additive from the caramel candies, but I just wanted the whole thing to be perfectly uniform.
So I strained it once through a coffee filter. Unlike the Skittles Vodka Infusion, I found it worked best if I poured a few ounces through a filter, then swap out a new filter for the next few ounces. Otherwise, the frothy stuff would clog up the filter and make it slow.
Once I strained it all, I realized how much of that gunk had gotten left behind in the bottle. I rinsed it, but it turned out I needed to use some Dawn to get it all out.
I poured the strained infusion back into the clean bottle. Then I added a pinch of salt – seriously, that’s part of an eighth of a teaspoon. Do not get too much! You can always add more later, or even add it to drinks individually.
Related: Rum Caviar Tutorial
So how does it taste? Like caramel sunshine. It’s sweet, but not as much as I expected. You don’t taste the salt itself – it cuts the sweetness and enhances the flavor. Mainly, you get this buttery caramelized sugar flavor that’s strong but not heavy. It’s lighter than, say, Bailey’s or Kahlua. The goal had been to create something that was sweet but sophisticated, and this surpassed my expectations. Of course you can make it more or less sweet depending on the number of caramels you use.
Related: Starburst Vodka Tutorial
It’s delicious straight:
But I’ll be adding cocktail recipes for this as I develop them!