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Catholic Recipe: Carmelite Sundaes


  • 1 cup sugar
  • water
  • Details

  • Yield: about 1 cup of sauce
  • Prep Time: 20 minutes
  • Difficulty:
  • Cost: $$$$
  • For Ages: n/a
  • Origin: USA

Sixteen Carmelite sisters were taken from their convent in Compiegne in northeastern France when their convent was seized by the government. Eventually they were imprisoned and on July 17, the day after the Feast of Our Lady of Mount Carmel, they were taken to their death, by guillotine. It is said, they rode in carts to the place where they would be put to death, singing: the "Miserer," "Salve Regina," and "Te Deum," and as they stood at the foot of the guillotine they sang "Veni Creator Spiritus." (You can read the complete story here.)

They turned the bitter, hideous, unjust death by guillotine into sweet martyrdom with their beautiful faith in God. In their honor I made caramel sauce for ice cream sundaes with nothing but heat and white sugar. Just a few moments before the heat turns the sugar into a bitter, acrid substance, it turns it into sweet, molten caramel, just as the Carmelite martyrs turned their bitter death into something joyful and glorious.

This recipe for caramel sauce is most amazing. It is nothing but sugar and water and heat. You can certainly used jarred caramel sauce to make your sundaes, but I love the magic of taking burned sugar and turning into something sweet and decadent.

This recipe for caramel sauce can be used for any Carmelite feast day, like Our Lady of Mt. Carmel...St. Teresa of Avila...St. Therese of Lisieux...St. Mary Magdalen di Pazzi...St. John of the Cross. There are many and a list can be found here.


Use this Caramel Sauce over chocolate or vanilla ice cream – or go all caramel and use caramel swirl. Top with whipped cream, cherries and chopped nuts, if desired.

In a small saucepan, combine sugar and 1/4 cup water and place over medium-high heat. Without stirring, very gently swirl the pan until a clear syrup forms. It is important that the syrup clarify before it boils, so move the pan off and back on the heat if necessary. After the sugar dissolves, raise the heat to high and bring the syrup to a rolling boil; cover the pan tightly and boil for 2 minutes. Uncover the pan and cook the syrup until it begins to darken around the edges. Gently swirl the pan by the handle and cook the syrup until it turns a deep amber and begins to smoke – stop before it becomes red or mahogany. Remove from the heat. Standing back (take one giant step backward and cover your hand with a towel or hot pad – it's going to spatter) add 1/3 cup water, then stir until smooth. If the caramel remains lumpy, stir briefly over low heat. Cool for 5 to 10 minutes, then serve over ice cream.

Source: modified from The Joy of Cooking

Recipe Source: Catholic Cuisine
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