Salted Caramels

21 Dec

Step two in the candy making adventure: Salted Caramels.  These require a little more care and a few tools but trust me, they are worth it.  I think that these just may be the best caramels I have ever had.  Soft, creamy, salty, sweet, fragrant.  They can be dipped in chocolate but they really don’t need it.  Save the chocolate for something else.

Salted Caramels, very slightly adapted from Gourmet Magazine, October 2004

Makes approximately 40 caramels

1 cup heavy cream

5 tablespoons of unsalted butter, cut into cubes

1 teaspoon salt, plus more for garnishing – sea salt or kosher salt work best in this recipe.

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 1/2 cups  sugar

1/4 cup  corn syrup

1/4 cup water

In a small sauce pan combine the heavy cream, butter, salt and vanilla.  Bring to a boil, remove from the heat and set aside.

Prepare a 8 inch x 8 inch pan by lining it with parchment paper and oiling the paper and sides of the pan.

In a 3 – 4 quart heavy sauce pan* combine the sugar, corn syrup and water.  Over medium heat stir the mixture until the sugar dissolves.  With a wet pastry brush, brush down any sugar that might be on the sides of the pan.  Turn the heat up.  DO NOT STIR.  When the sugar starts to caramelize, pick up the pan and swirl the mixture so that it caramelizes evenly.  Cook until the mixture is a deep amber color.  Immediately and carefully,  pour the cream mixture into the sugar.  Watch out, the mixture will bubble up rapidly  – aren’t you glad you have a big enough pot?  Cook, stirring constantly until the mixture reaches 298º F.  Pour into the prepared pan and let cool completely.

Turn the caramels out onto a cutting board and cut into 1 inch squares, sprinkle each caramel with a few flakes of salt.  To wrap, cut 4 inch squares of wax paper, fold over evenly and twist the ends.

* The size and weight of the sauce pan are important.  The size allows  enough room for the sugar and cream mixture to combine and come to a boil without spilling out over the edges and on to your stove top.  Caramel is the absolute worst thing to have to clean up, sticky and insanely hot.  It is terrible. Heavy saucepans – think stainless steel or copper – distribute and hold heat more evenly than lighter pans.  This is important in most cooking, but crucial when cooking sugar.

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