Friday, January 9, 2009
Caramels au Fleur de Sel
Introducing the recipe that caused me to finally buy a candy thermometer ($10 at Target!): Caramels au Fleur de Sel. I was watching the Barefoot Contessa's show, and I loved the idea of individually wrapped caramels served at a party. She made the recipe look easy, and I love fleur de sel, a French sea salt that I have been using in all my salted brown sugar caramel concoctions.
So I bought the thermometer and ingredients and went to it. The caramels turned out chewy and soft, with just the right amount of salt to compliment the sweetness.
Caramels au Fleur de Sel
1 1/2 C sugar
1/4 C corn syrup*
1 tsp fleur de sel (at Trader Joe's you can buy a similar Coarse Sea Salt for this)
1 C heavy cream
5 T butter
1/2 tsp vanilla
Prepare an 8x8 inch square pan by lining it with parchment paper on the bottom and sides and greasing the parchment paper (it will be sticky, so you won't be sorry you did this step).
In a medium saucepan over medium heat, combine the sugar, corn syrup, and water. Stir until it is a warm brown caramel color as in the picture below. If you keep the stove burner at a low heat, this will take up to 30 minutes, but if you're willing to take a slight risk with your sugar syrup (which burns easily) you can speed up the process by turning the fire up to medium-high.
Once the caramel has reached the desired color, add the fleur de sel and the heavy cream. The cream will bubble violently when you add it, so be prepared to stir vigorously until it calms down. Stir in the butter and vanilla once the bubbling dies down.
Place the candy thermometer in the caramel according to the thermometer's instructions, and leave on the heat without stirring until it reaches 248 degrees. As soon as it gets to 248, turn off the heat, and pour the caramel into the prepared pan. Do not ever line the pan with foil as in the picture above - this caramel fought a fierce fight with the foil, and the caramel won!
Once the caramel has cooled, you can either cut it up into squares, or roll it into pieces by cutting the pan down the middle, and then rolling up the strip of caramel into a log. Sprinkle more fleur de sel lightly over the log or squares. If using the log roll method, cut the log into the size pieces you desire. Cut parchment paper into squares large enough to twist around each caramel piece, and serve!
By the way, this caramel went really well with my homemade marshmallows...
*I tried using agave syrup instead of the corn syrup once, and the caramel was slightly different in flavor (but still good), and much softer. That was great caramel to wrap around marshmallows!