I’ve been trying to resolve how to roll out the red carpet for these caramels. They’re so good they’ve left me a bit blocked, without a stately introduction or even the end bits of a few rose petal descriptors to pave the way. I googled “how to make a grand entrance,” because I thought some glitzy adjectives might help ungunk things. But I’m pretty sure these caramels don’t have to worry about wearing the perfect outfit, nor do they need to manicure their nails or remember to relax their face muscles. Which is apparently what it takes to make a head-turning entry. Heck, I don’t do any of that. My face is all squinty and unladylike-looking just thinking about it.
So, I’m stripping away the glamour. The shoe doesn’t quite fit anyhow. Sinking your teeth into them is a luxury, but there is something decidedly more romantic and honest about these caramels. They aren’t really fancy at all. They’re intimate.
Yes, they are technically unnecessary. But that’s what gives them personality and makes them so intriguing. I recently met someone who bought a secondhand copper fondue pot for his kitchen: because he thought it wise to have one. Just in case. Because, hey, you never know. Sometimes fondue happens. And one never knows when.
That’s how I feel about these caramels. You might need to know how to make them someday. And eating them sure doesn't hurt, that's for sure. These lovely little ladies deliver, much like a big bubbling pot of warm cheese would.
Surprisingly, they aren’t too high maintenance, assuming you have a pot, a pan, and a candy thermometer. You’ll spend some time watching the sugar gurgle on the stovetop too, but it’s well worth it. These caramels hold their form; they are chewy with a nice salty bite, which lends an almost earthy quality and keeps them from being too prim and proper.
And when you’ve finished. When the kitchen is cleaned, and the caramel has set and been cut, and you sit down and have your first taste, the world goes quiet. You can’t think of anything more necessary at the moment. The sea salt and silence has it. And perhaps that’s the best descriptor of all.
Fleur de Sel Caramels
Adapted from Gesine Bullock-Prado of sugarbaby
1.5 cups heavy cream
2 cups sugar
1 cup light corn syrup
1/4 cup unsalted butter, cut into 1/2 inch pieces
2 tsp vanilla extract
3 tsp fleur de sel sea salt, divided
Line a square baking pan (I used an 8 x 8 inch) with foil and grease the top part of the foil (the part facing you) with a neutral-flavored oil, like canola oil. In a large saucepan combine cream, sugar, and corn syrup over medium-low heat; stir occasionally until the sugar has melted, then raise the heat slightly (to medium) and continue to stir until the sugar mixture boils.
Once the mixture boils, stop stirring and cook until the sugar reaches 257 degrees (125 degrees Celsius) on a candy thermometer; you'll want to stay close by during this time, in case the mixture starts to bubble up. (If it does, remove the saucepan from the heat until it quiets again.) Once the temperature is reached, immediately remove the saucepan from the heat and stir in the butter; add in the vanilla and 2 tsp of the salt and stir again to combine.
Pour the caramel into your pan and sprinkle with the remaining salt; let the caramel sit at room temperature until it sets and is cool enough to cut (this will take an hour or so). Cut the caramel into small squares and wrap them individually in wax or parchment paper. (Prior to wrapping them you may want to press a few extra grains of sea salt into each piece; this is what I decided on.) Store the caramels in an airtight container for up to a week.
Makes about 50 pieces (depending on your cuts)
-Wholesome Sweeteners makes an organic corn syrup that I just love. The salt was from here. (Spoiled!)
-I left the wrapped caramels out accidentally for a few days without an airtight container, but they didn't go all hard on me. They have such a lovely toothsome quality.
-sugarbaby (yes, in all lowercase letters; the punctuation nerd in me is freaking) a wonderful, wonderful cookbook. And it's as entertaining as it is tempting.