14 December 2010

Sea Salt Caramels

Why is it so fun to make caramel?  I mean, it's basically like science class. (Except that I don't have to worry about the lab table on fire with the Bunsen burner or about accidentally eating glass.  Both of those things happened to me in chemistry class.  By the way, Mitch also ate glass once, and was no worse for the wear.  I think there's a strong chance that we're superhero dog and woman.)

These caramels are hard, kind of like a Werther's Original, but they're a little more sassy than something your great-grandpa would eat.  That's because they've got sea salt sprinkled on top.  And if you need to make something for some holiday sweet treat exchange or something like that, these might be fun.

Sea Salt Caramels from The Kitchn

* 1 cup heavy cream
* 5 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into pieces
* 2 teaspoons sea salt, plus extra for sprinkling on top. Sea salt is found in specialty food stores under the name "fleur de sel." You can also experiment with artisanal salts if you like.
* 1 1/2 cups sugar
* 1/4 cup light corn syrup
* 1/4 cup water

* 8" square baking pan
* Parchment paper
* Candy thermometer (or a deep-fat thermometer)
* Wax paper for wrapping or paper candy cups


* Line the bottom and sides of the pan with parchment paper and lightly oil the paper.
* Bring the cream, butter and sea salt to a boil in a small saucepan; remove from heat and set aside.
* Boil the sugar, corn syrup, and water in a heavy saucepan, stirring until sugar is dissolved. Bring to a boil, without stirring but gently swirling pan; then cook without stirring until the mixture reaches 248°F, the firm-ball stage.
* Carefully stir in the cream mixture—the mixture will bubble up. Simmer, stirring frequently, about 15 minutes. The temperature should not go higher than 250°F.
* CANDYMAKER TIP: To get the caramel consistency you want, test by dropping a spoonful of caramel into a bowl of cold water. It will form a ball, which you can test with your fingers. Stop cooking when the ball is the consistency that you want.
* Pour the mixture into the baking pan and cool 2 hours.
* OPTIONAL: You can enrobe your caramels in tempered melted chocolate; sprinkle the top with some grains of sea salt (pretty salts make a difference); or press in some culinary lavender buds.
* Cut into 1-inch pieces, then wrap each piece in a 4-inch square of wax paper, folding ends or twisting to close like taffy.

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