Foray into Food

Our first snow

I’ve always enjoyed learning new cooking techniques, but I am much more into it now that I have some time to tinker in the kitchen. A few friends and family who’ve been recipients of my blossoming foodie obsession have commented that I should do something with my skills. I don’t think I want to open any sort of restaurant or catering service. (We already run a bit of a bed-n-breakfast…does that count?) And I don’t think I want to start a food blog. So, at Jess’s latest suggestion, here’s my current plan: I’m going to feature cooking blogs on here as I’m inspired – like the way I do things normally. Who knows how often that’ll be? So read on or click away; salted caramels follow.

I came across Baked Bree sometime in March, and found her recipe for caramel sauce. I tried it once in an old, cheap aluminum pan. While it tasted great, the texture was all wrong. I bought another, more appropriate pan and then promptly threw myself down a hill with a child in my arms. Naturally, my broken ankle made me a bit wary of super-hot sugar, so I didn’t try again until sometime in July. I think. Since then, I’ve been obsessed. I’ll share the sauce recipe some other time, because it is SO good and pretty easy, but last night I made salted caramels, so that’s what’s here.

Yes, you look wonderful tonight

Don’t let the β€œsalted” part scare you off if you haven’t tried it before. Interestingly, salt changes the way your taste-buds interact with the somewhat bitter compounds created during the caramelizing process, allowing you to enjoy the complex flavors that resultt. These caramels have a deep, rich flavor and are chewy without being hard. Really, they’re perfect. (Jess said “Best.caramels.EVER!!! Thanks again for always sharing your delicious goods πŸ™‚

Cooking implements:
1 small pan
1 3 qt heavy-bottomed sauce pan (preferably light in color)
candy thermometer (I have this one)
pastry brush
large bowl of cold water (to use and in case you get boiling sugar on you!)
8×11 pan (or approximately the same size)
aluminum foil

Ingredients:
5 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 cup heavy whipping cream
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1-2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups granulate sugar
1/4 cup light corn syrup
1/4 cup water
1 teaspoon fine sea salt

Directions:

  • Press foil into pan and spray liberally with cooking spray.
  • In small sauce pan, melt butter over medium heat. Add cream, vanilla and salt, stirring frequently until just boiling. Turn off and set aside.
  • In large pan, mix together sugar, corn syrup and water. Cook over medium heat until it just starts smoking.** Remove from heat and carefully pour in cream mixture. It will boil like crazy – no kids near! Place thermometer into mixture, put back over heat, and stir frequently. Cook until the temperature gets up to 248 degrees.

  • Pour immediately into prepared dish. It’ll look like a wreck, but the bubbles will come out, and it will be lovely. Let sit for 10 minutes and then sprinkle with sea salt. Allow to cool completely (several hours or overnight). Place wax paper on a cutting board and turn cooled caramel out onto it. Peel off all aluminum, flip caramel over, salt side up.

Β 

  • Cut into bite-sized pieces.***
  • Separate and wrap in small squares of waxed or parchment paper. Do this quickly, or the caramel will slowly ooze and flatten.
  • Share with friends or family, otherwise, you will make yourself sick and develop diabetes!
  • Makes about 45


**Once the sugar is all dissolved, don’t stir it. You can use the pastry brush and water to rinse down any crystals that form on the side, and you can swirl the pan to prevent hot spots, but no stirring! This part will take about 10 minutes. As soon as the sugar starts to develop any color, don’t leave it. It turns quickly! It should be the color of an old copper penny and just smoking when you add the cream.
***You can spray the knife with cooking spray to prevent sticking or you can heat it with water and wipe dry every couple of cuts. I’ve done it both ways; I prefer the hot-water method.

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