Monday, August 24, 2009

The Caramel Secret

Cream and burnt sugar, can it get better than that? Serve the caramel with tart fruit and you have a perfect flavour balance. Everyone thinks making candy is hard, it's not. You don't really even need a candy thermometer, just watch the colour of the caramel as you cook it, it should get double as brown as when it is uncooked before you pour the cream in.

Some key advice; watch that you aren't tired or hungover when making the candy!
It's super easy to burn the crap out of yourself with this hot molten liquid, pay attention. Not that I've ever burnt myself.. ok, maybe once. It is very satisfying making caramel, makes you feel like a wizard or a medieval alchemist. Caramel is a very forgiving beast, even if you mess up the proportions and it ends up not setting, it still tastes amazing as a sauce.

2 Recipes for you...
Honey Butter Caramels with Sea Salt
...adapted from Alice Medrich's Pure Dessert on Dessert First's Blog

Makes about 80 caramels

1/4 cup light corn syrup
1/2 cup honey
1 cup (200 g) sugar
1/2 teaspoon coarse sea salt
2 cups heavy cream %36 MF is best
3 Tablespoons butter, cut into small pieces, room temperature

Line the bottom and sides of an 8 or 9 in baking pan with foil or parchment paper. Let the sides of the foil or parchment hang over the sides of the pan; this will make it easier to remove the caramels.

In a large saucepan (use at least a 3 quart saucepan, as the boiling caramel will increase in volume), combine the corn syrup, honey, sugar, and sea salt, and bring to a boil. Let the mixture continue cooking until it reaches 305 degrees F.

Meanwhile, place the cream in a small saucepan and warm on the stove until it is just at a simmer. Turn off the heat and cover the saucepan to keep the cream warm (you do not want to add cold cream to the hot caramel or it will seize up and harden.)

When the caramel is at the right temperature, take it off the heat and add in the butter, stirring until it is melted and combined.

Add in the cream slowly - when you pour it in it will bubble up violently, so don't add the cream all at once or it might overflow. When you have added all the cream, stir the mixture until combined.

Return the saucepan to the stove and cook on medium heat until it reaches 250 degrees F.

Pour the caramel into the prepared pan. Let it set overnight before removing and cutting into individual pieces.

Caramel Dipping Sauce for Granny Smith Apples

Make recipe as above, but add more cream (1/4 cup ish) to keep it from fully setting.
Chop up 6 apples into bite size pieces and serve caramel as a fondue in a dipping cup. Watch the apples disappear before your very eyes.

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