Saturday, December 6, 2014

Soft Sea Salted Caramels

Watch out Peanut Butter and Chocolate, Sea Salt and Caramel just might be a better tasting duo. Let's face it, the salty/sweet pair is found everywhere these days causing excitement and for me, drooling. They're just so darn good together.

Homemade caramels make a great holiday gift and I enjoy the whole process of making and wrapping them because it makes me feel like I'm running a candy shop. You just have to be sure you have two very necessary tools — a heavy bottomed medium-sized saucepan and a candy thermometer.

Here's the recipe:

Soft Sea Salted Caramels
(makes 128)

3/4 cup unsalted butter
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1 cup light corn syrup
2 cups granulated sugar
2 cups heavy whipping cream, divided
1 teaspoon vanilla
extra sea salt
Line an 8x8 pan with buttered parchment paper. In a two to three quart, heavy bottomed saucepan, add the butter, 1/2 teaspoon of sea salt, corn syrup, sugar and 1 cup of the whipping cream. Place the saucepan over low heat and warm the ingredients until the butter is melted. You may stir gently to combine the ingredients but don't splash the ingredients on the sides of the pan. Be very careful with this.

Once the butter is melted, increase the temperature to medium low and from this point on, there is no more stirring. Once the mixture is simmering, clip a candy thermometer onto the inside of the pan and heat the ingredients to 240 degrees F. Once the mixture reaches that temperature, add the remaining one cup of heavy whipping cream. Gently swirl the pan to help it combine again being careful not to splash the sides of the pan.

Still keeping the pan over medium low heat, heat the mixture until it reaches 250 degrees. This takes a while so be patient. It's important not to stir and to keep a close watch on it.

Once the mixture reaches 250 degrees, remove it from the heat, add the vanilla, and swirl the caramel to combine. If you must use a spoon or spatula to do this, be careful not to let it scrape the bottom of the pan because chances are that there are bits of too dark caramel on the bottom and you don't want to release it and mix it into your caramels.

Pour the mixture into the prepared pan and don't scrape the sides or bottom, just pour it out. Sprinkle the top of the caramel evenly with the extra sea salt. I use just a scant 1/2 of a teaspoon.

Let the caramel cool in the pan at room temperature. It's best if you can let it cool overnight.

To cut the caramels, grab the sides of the parchment to lift the whole thing out of the pan. Cut the caramel square into 1-inch strips and then slice off 1/2-inch wide caramels. Wrap the caramels individually in squares of parchment.

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