Thursday, December 18, 2008

A Sea of Salted Caramels

A sea of salted caramels

This is my first attempt at making salted caramels. I guess the whole idea of standing by the stove and stirring a pot of hot sugar just didn't appeal to me. I'd much rather bake cookies or dip chocolate truffles. But my encounter with a french macaroon made me reconsider.

A few months ago, my sister went to Paris and brought me back an assortment of Laduree macaroons. They all tasted heavenly but I completely fell in love with the caramel au buerre sale (caramel with salted butter). Oooooh...the sweet and salty combination made my tastebuds jump for joy. Too bad there were only two of them in the box :-(

With the flavor of caramel au buerre sale deeply ingrained in my memory, I decided to take a crack at making it. I took a caramel recipe from one of my cookbooks and added a little sea salt to it. It took every ounce of my patience to stir and stir . . . and stir some more, until the candy thermometer finally reached the proper temperature. Yes, I got impatient and lifted the slab of caramel off the pan before it completely cooled, which explains the ugly ripples on top. Ugh!

Now, if only I could restrain myself from devouring all of these, maybe they'll make it into the goodie boxes :-)

Salted Caramel

Salted Caramels
(adapted from the Better Homes and Gardens New Cookbook)
Allergy Note: contains dairy

1 cup butter
2 1/4 cups brown sugar
2 cups half-and-half or light cream
1 cup light corn syrup
1 tsp. sea salt
1 tsp. vanilla extract

sea salt

Grease and line an 8x8 square pan with parchment paper or aluminum foil. Leave enough parchment paper or aluminum foil outside the pan so the caramel can be lifted out later. Set aside.
In a 3-quart saucepan, melt butter on low heat. Add brown sugar, heavy cream, corn syrup and sea salt. Cook over medium-high heat, stirring until it reaches a boil. Lower the heat to medium and attach a candy thermometer to the pan. Keep cooking and stirring until it reaches 248 degrees F (firm ball stage). Remove the candy thermometer and remove from heat. Stir in the vanilla extract and immediately pour into the prepared pan. Sprinkle sea salt over the caramel. Let the caramel cool completely, then lift it out of the pan. Cut into 1-inch squares. Makes about 64 caramel candies.

UPDATE "Shortcut Version": I tried the shortcut version a couple of days ago and it tasted just as good as the regular version. By replacing the cream with a 14-ounce can of sweetened condensed milk, it shortened the cooking time to about 15 - 20 minutes. Oh joy!


Pearl said...

oh SO pretty! thanks for sharing :)

Anonymous said...

Ahhhhh le beurre salé... Lucky I'm flying back to Paris in a week, the US is very good and all but they don't really do pastry quite as nicely as back home :-) Bravo!

Jeanine - The Baking Beauties said...

YUM!! We did chewy caramels for a Daring Baker challenge not that long ago, and I did sea salt on mine. What a fantastic combination! Beautiful!

test it comm said...

Those look so good!

Anonymous said...

These look so perfect, I can nearly taste them!

Amanda (Two Boos Who Eat) said...

I am definitely going to try this recipe. YUM!

Cakespy said...

These look (and sound) fantastic!

kcunning said...

These are cooling in my kitchen as I write this. My husband is angsting over the wait.

Anonymous said...

Oh. My. Word. I NEED to eat this.

Anonymous said...

Oh wow, this is amazing! Thanks for sharing!

Caroline said...

WOW, looks fantastic! I wouldn't have thought anything about the ripples if you hadn't mentioned it. They look perfect. BTW, this has just been added to my list of Christmas treats to make.

jef said...

Salted caramels are over-rated. :)
Coconut caramels are a different story. Change out that milk with some coconut milk and you're in business!

Art of Dessert said...

Hi Jef! I saw the coconut caramels you made on your post and I was definitely intrigued. I definitely gotta try that.

Kiezie said...

I recently tried salted caramels for the first time and was delighted at the fabulous tastes that swirled around in my mouth. Your recipe looks great and I can't wait to try it! Thanks for the great post.

niagaragirl said...

Many don't realize the value of salt in candymaking. Some I know will even leave it out because they think the recipe is in error. A baker I know does a caramel pecan pastry ring with slight salt in the caramel. It's just to die for. She sells a lot of them.

BTW your ripples add character to the candy and they look great ;-)

Anonymous said... this! Will definitely make em soon!

Erin said...

Oh gosh I sooo love caramel!

Amy P said...

I recently made these and they are delicious. I made them using the shortcut method, and I don't think I gave them enough time to cool, so they did not cut well. How long would you think that these require to cool sufficiently before cutting, and should these be stored at room temperature, or in the fridge? Thanks!!!

Whitney said...

I can't believe I've never left a comment! These caramels have been my go-to homemade gift for the last 4 years. They've been likened to crack on more than one occasion. I used the original recipe just once - man was that a pain! The shortcut version was a lifesaver. I use a sea salt grinder so the salt in the batch is a fine grind, and the rocks on top are a bit bigger. I wrap them in wax paper and keep in them in an airtight container until I'm ready to gift them, as I know many recipients store them at room temperature. The purchase of an 8x8 silicone pan was also a game changer. The caramels pop right out and the corners are sharp and perfect.

To answer the (4 year old) question above: They've never lasted in my house longer than a week (and always in the refrigerator) but my aunt kept them out in a candy dish and the last one eaten was a month old. She said it tasted just as good as the first. Also, for best luck cutting, I let them cool to room temperature, then pop the pan in the fridge to get pretty rock solid. They are much easier to cut cold, as they get stickier as they warm.



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