Last weekend was my first full weekend off in a while. Two full days without going to work... what to do?! Make caramels clearly.
A recipe from Vanilla and Lace (http://vanillaandlace.blogspot.com/) was recommended to me so I thought I would give it a try. I LOVE chocolate/caramels with fleur de sel and I bought a candy thermometer a while back and never had the chance to use it. This was the perfect opportunity!
I figured making candy would be rather complicated. I'm not very good at measuring out ingredients ahead of time but this time I thought I would give it a try. First step.. get everything out.
This was not a quick little recipe. I dedicated my morning to it but it definitely took more time than I thought. All worth it of course!
Here it goes!
(recipe originally found here: http://vanillaandlace.blogspot.com/2009/12/fleur-de-sel-or-not-caramels.html)
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
(simple ingredients turn into a delicious treat!)
Line a cake pan with parchement paper (cut it to size) and butter it. Buttering is important. You want the cooled caramel to come off the paper easily. The recipe called for a 9x9 pan. I used a small rectangular cake pan and it worked just fine.
In a saucepan combine the sugar, salt (not the sea salt) corn syrup and cream.
Stir constantly and bring to a boil.
Reduce the heat and stir for 5 minutes. Cut up the butter into little chunks and slowly add them to the sugar mixture, letting each one melt before adding the next.
The recipe told me to clip on my candy thermometer ... "finally!!!"
Allow the mixture to boil until it reaches 250 degrees. I thought this would happen pretty quickly. Wrong. The recipe told me it would take 20-40 minutes... I thought It would happen faster. VERY WRONG. I started stirring the mixture occasionally, as instructed, at a medium low heat watching the thermometer.
I have a while to go apparently. Stir....stir.....stir...
bubbles! It must be getting hotter.
(20 minutes later) The needle hasn't moved that much.
I keep stirring....and turn up the heat a little
Another 20 minutes and I'm almost to the red! I finally feel like I'm making candy! By this time I'm past the 40 minutes the recipe said this would take.. so I turn up the heat and watch it a little more carefully. I tasted the sugar on the spoon I was using and it tasted like caramel...must be a good sign.
In the red... thicker bubbles. On the right track...but not there yet!
I was so excited to finally reach 250 degrees that I forgot to take a picture. An hour later, at 250 I see beautiful thick bubbles .
When the sugar mixture reaches 250 take it off the heat immediately and stir in the vanilla.
Pour it carefully into your pan. Make sure not to scrape the sides of the pan. If you do you'll scrape sugar crystals into the caramel and you don't want that! Keep it smooth...leave the sides alone. If you feel like you are wasting some, don't. You'll have more caramel then you know what to do with. Trust me.
Let it cool for about an hour until you can touch it. (This is where the buttered parchment paper comes in handy. I'm not sure it would have come out of the pan without it!)
I turned the caramel out onto a cutting board and went at it with my kitchen knife. Oil your knife because this stuff is STICKY!!
Prepare a plate with fleur de sel.
I cut mine into long strips and then into squares. Press each little square into the salt. Work quickly because it cools pretty fast, making it harder to cut and harder to press into the salt.
Only after I got half way through cutting the caramel strips into squares did I realize that making candy also means making candy WRAPPERS. *sigh*
-[STOP all candy cutting and find plastic wrap. Cut said plastic wrap into as many pieces of caramel you think you are making, and then cut double that number]
After cursing the number of caramels you have to wrap ........ you can enjoy them :)
This recipe was a lesson in patience but it was well worth it! The caramels were delicious and it was fun watching the sugar start off as a solid, quickly turn into a liquid and the slowly thicken into thick thick bubbles. I'll definitely make candy again! Recipe suggestions welcome!
Friends... get ready for some candy in the mail!