I luv giving home-made treats during the holidays, and these caramels are perfect for the foodies on my gift list. The recipe is super easy and the fleur de sel takes the caramels to a whole new level. While they are fabulous on their own, try dropping a piece into your morning cup of coffee, add a teaspoon of sweetened cocoa, a bit of cream, stir for a minute or two and you now have a salty, sweet, caramel mocha… delish!
Caramels presented on a festive plate or nestled in a gift box make the perfect gift for the caramel lover on your list!
and for an extra special gift, pair them with homemade caramel sauce tucked in a pretty dessert dish, add a spoon, and tie it all up with a pretty bow
The sugar mixture for one batch of caramels was left to simmer until the candy thermometer registered 248 degrees F, and the cooled caramel turned out more like a brittle rather than being soft and chewy which was the result I was after. However, the flavor was amazing! Not one to waste any kind of sugar delivery device, I put the caramel brick into a plastic bag, sealed it up, and with a few good whacks with a rolling pin, I now have a dish filled with bite-size pieces of caramel goodness, reminiscent of the hard candies my grandpa charlie used to share with us grandkids back in the day.
recipe: fleur de sel caramels yield: 16-40 candies
1 1/2 cups baker’s sugar
1/4 cup light corn syrup
1/4 cup water
1 cup heavy cream
5 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into 5 pats
1 teaspoon fleur de sel
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
Line bottom and sides of an 8-inch square baking pan with parchment paper, then lightly brush with vegetable oil.
In a small saucepan, bring cream, butter, and fleur de sel to a boil, then remove from heat and set aside.
In a heavy-bottom saucepan (3-4 quarts), combine sugar, water, and corn syrup. Over medium-high heat, bring to a boil, stirring until sugar is dissolved. Continue boiling until the mixture is light golden brown. Do not stir at this stage – just gently swirl the pan.
Carefully stir in cream mixture (mixture will bubble up). With a wooden spoon, stir in the vanilla and continue to simmer over medium-low heat, stirring frequently, until it registers 240 degrees F (soft ball stage) on a candy thermometer, 10 to 15 minutes.
note: many recipes call for boiling the mixture until it reaches 248 degrees F (hard ball stage) but this resulted in hard rather than soft and chewy caramels. Along with the candy thermometer, I also tested the mixture for the desired doneness, by dropping a teaspoon of the mixture into a bowl of ice water. When the caramel was firm but soft to the touch, I turned off the heat and the reading on the candy thermometer was at 240 degrees F.
Pour the caramel into the prepared pan and refrigerate for 2-3 hours, until firm.
Remove the caramel from the baking pan and turn out onto a cutting board.
for 40 pieces: cut into one-inch pieces, then wrap each piece in a 4 x 5-inch square of wax paper, twisting the ends to close.
or for 16 thicker pieces: cut the square in half.
Starting with the long side, roll the caramel up tightly into an 8-inch long log.
Sprinkle fleur de sel onto the cutting board and with the seam side of the log up, press the log onto the board.
Turn the log over, seam-side down so the fleur de sel is on top. Cut the log in half, then in half again until you have 8 equal pieces from each log.
Wrap each caramel piece in a 4 x 5-inch square of wax paper, twisting the ends to close.
Place caramels in an airtight container and store up to 3 weeks.