Friday, 28 May 2010

Her results - Sea Salt Caramels

It was fun making caramels and the results were delicious. I had a little experience from making the icing for the caramel cake as part of our weekly project eariler this year. And this wasn't my first major tango with the candy thermometer. When I was a kid, I went through a phase where I was obsessed with making flavored glass candy. I can remember dangerous looking shards of bright green peppermint candy and other batches dyed red and flavored of cinnamon. I had forgotten all about that until now. I really did a lot of cooking and baking when I was younger. I'm enjoying how this project is surfacing those memories.

To start the recipe, we first had to heat a cream & butter mixture and a separate sugar mixture. As someone who's slightly OCD, the sugar scuz ringing the interior that pot was killing me, but luckily I was able to keep on...

Mixing the two pots together resulted in a pale bubbly mixture that I perseveringly watched and stirred as it darkened and grew hotter.

At about this time, I imagined the horrors of having a pan of this dumped over my head. My gosh, it would be terrible. He told me that he read a David Lebovitz recipe that suggested having a bunch of cold water on hand in case of an emergency. I suddenly wished I had a bucket of water nearby.

It finally it reached the required soft ball temperature and I poured it into my square pan without casualty. I forgot to take a picture but by looking at the final product I'd say you can imagine what it looked like.

I bought some tasty sea salt that I used in these and also sprinkled on top, but it would have looked much nicer if my grocery had carried flakes or even just coarse sea salt. I'd suggest going out of your way to find some, because I think it also affected the flavor. In my harsh opinion, my caramels turned out a little too uniformly salty. The salt flavor isn't remotely overwhelming, but I think it's noticeable in each little bite. Maybe that's a good thing, but times like this I wish I could sample his caramels for comparison.

It's 90s in the daytime and 70s at night nowadays, and these are too soft at room temperature to hold their shape. I'm sad to say that it's true even in my air conditioned office. But a Google search seems to say that this is expected for caramels that have only been heated to soft ball. If you're in a warm place like me, you should probably skip this particular recipe and choose one that calls for heating the caramel higher. Otherwise, beware that you will need to serve these right out of the fridge.

The recipe made tons of standard sized caramels, and I wrapped up about 7 of them in waxed paper (it seemed like it took forever) to share at work. I had intended in wrapping more, but I couldn't be bothered. I also tried making triple-thick folded caramels like in the picture he originally posted with the recipe, but the caramel we made was too thick to give good results. Oh well, taste over style! Yum.

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