Monday, December 21, 2009
Fleur de sel (or not) caramels
When I set out to make a load of homemade treats I hadn't planned on making anything too time consuming since there would be quite a bit to make. But I kept stumbling across homemade caramel recipes, EVERYWHERE. I figured it's something I have yet to make (we wont count the "help" I gave mom every now and again as a child) and they look cute wrapped up so why not.
And boy, am I glad I did. I am not a connoisseur of caramels, and usually I pass on the chance to eat them but I could NOT stop "testing" them. It seems like I was wrapping one, then eating one. Wrapping one.. eating one and so on. Which is why I sent 99% of them off to family and friends, and so far I have heard amazing things from every single person. Less talk, more caramels.. please!
I didn't put the salt on every caramel, in fact I think it was only about 20. There isn't a drastic difference, so if you don't have fleur de sel (or sea salt) or don't like your sweets a bit salty, don't worry, they are still amazing. A big plus: They hold their shape (which is perfect for gift giving) but melt in your mouth. I may never use another caramels recipe again.
Fleur de sel Caramels (adapted by notsohumblepie)
Makes 60-70 large caramels
This recipe does take time, expect about an hour in front of the stove.
2 cups granulated sugar
2 cups heavy cream
1 cup light corn syrup
1/2 teaspoons salt
5 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon fleur de sel, I used unrefined sea salt (omit for plain caramels)
Line a 9 x 9 cake pan with lightly buttered parchment and set aside.
In a heavy sauce pan over medium heat combine sugar, corn syrup, salt and one cup of the heavy cream. Stirring constantly, bring to a boil. This will take some time. Don't be tempted to turn up the heat, this recipe requires patience.
Once the mixture boils add the remaining cup of cream in a slow trickle so that you do not cool your caramel mixture and it continues to boil uninterrupted.
Reduce heat to medium-low and allow to boil for 5-6 minutes without stirring.
Add butter one tablespoon at a time, stirring after each melts. Clip on your candy thermometer and allow to boil over medium-low heat until the mixture just hits 250°F (Firm Ball stage) stirring occasionally. This should take about 30-40 minutes, if your temperature is climbing too quickly you might need to reduce heat all the way to low. By the same token, if you're not hitting 250°F by 40 minutes you might want to increase the heat a bit.
Once you've hit the right temperature, quickly remove from heat. Stir in the teaspoon of vanilla and pour into your prepared pan. To prevent any crystallization, don't scrape the pan as you pour, just allow what clings to the pan to remain in it. Set your dish of molten caramel carefully on a wire rack and allow to cool to room temperature.
Using the parchment, remove the cool caramel sheet from the pan and cut into pieces using a sharp buttered knife. Lightly press each piece onto a plate sprinkled with fleur de sel and wrap in cellophane or waxed paper.
These should keep for roughly a week or two, if wrapped and in an air tight container.