Thursday, December 29, 2011

Denture warning: Salted Caramels

Every year since we were in high school my friend Caitlin and I have been doing what we lovingly call,  "Christmas cookie bake." We have some old standards for each year, but we also always have a wild card slot. Over the years we have done fudge, chocolate dipped pretzels, cut outs etc. This year our wild card cookie wasn’t a cookie at all. We made salted caramels. Candy is tricky to make, but I am happy to say that they turned out quite nicely.

Caitlin had done a trial run of the recipe the week before. They didn't turn out quite how she wanted. Which was good because we knew what to do and what not to do. We checked on a number of different recipes and blogs in order to get good advice and tricks to make sure our caramels would turn out just right!

With help and recipes from Brown Eyed Baker and advice from David Lebovitz for opinions and temperatures etc. we came up with our own manageable/ less fancy version. Plus we exchanged some ingredients for what we had in the pantry. Both recipes said to use light, but we only had dark corn syrup. BUT, Betty Crocker says to use dark corn syrup...Who are we to argue with Betty!? It worked for us!

1 cup heavy cream
5 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into pieces
½ tsp vanilla
1¼ teaspoon fleur de sel, plus more for sprinkling
1½ cups granulated sugar
¼ cup dark corn syrup
¼ cup water

Important tip: Be ready for the whole recipe before you start cooking. Once you begin you need to move quickly!

1. Line bottom and sides of an 8-inch square baking pan with parchment paper, lightly butter parchment.

2. Bring cream, butter, vanilla and sea salt to a boil in a small saucepan, then remove from heat and set aside.

3. Boil sugar, corn syrup, and water in a heavy saucepan over medium heat, stirring until sugar is dissolved. Once the sugar is dissolved try not to stir too much. Just lightly stir occasionally to check the bottom of the pan for any hot spots. Remove from heat when the mixture reaches 310 degrees.

4. Immediately stir cream mixture into the caramel. The mixture will bubble up and make a noise. Don’t be alarmed! Return to the heat and let it simmer, stirring until caramel registers at 254 degrees. Getting to the high temp will take a while. Don’t get freaked out, the mixture cools off a lot when you add the cream. If you remove the candy too soon from the heat you will end up with caramel sauce for your ice cream. If you let it get too hot you will end up with hard sucking candies ala Werther’s. Both fine options… just not the desired result.

5. Pour immediately into the prepared baking pan. Sprinkle more salt over the top of the caramel and let sit until cooled (at least 2 hours). Cut into pieces by heating the knife and wrap each piece in wax or parchment paper, twisting ends to close.

We used holiday parchment to wrap them! 
We originally thought they got too hot and were going to be hard to eat. We were wrong! They were great and gone by the end of the weekend. Thankfully no one in my family has dentures! 


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