VIRGINIA LUCAS HART

Who Knew I Could Make Candy?!

recipeVirginia HartComment

I decided to make sea-salt caramels for my seven bosses this year. Sounds easy enough...right?

Heh.

I'm sharing the recipe with you so you can have a shot at it! My first attempt didn't go so well. Talk about deeee-saster. Don't be discouraged, though. Keep in mind that I'm working with 4-inches of counter space and zero experience cooking anything that can actually be messed up by someone who is capable of turning the stove/oven to the on and off positions.

First of all, I recommend a pretty deep baking pan. I had the mindset that my too-long/too-shallow one would be a-okay. I got to...well, the first stage in the directions (I mean I made it past buying the ingredients!), which instructs you to line the pan with parchment paper. I cut a large enough piece and attempted to squish it inside and the silly thing just kind of sat there on top. That certainly wasn't going to work since I had to "lightly oil" the parchment paper. (By the way, they need to clarify how "lightly". I suggest a dabble the size of a quarter that you smear around. And no, I did not get this right on my first try.) So what did I do? I did what any other sensible person would do. I pulled out the tape. Where on earth was my regular tape? Who knows. Yes, I resorted to using packaging tape. But leme tell ya - that parchment paper wasn't going anywhere by the time I was done with it!

The most important step in making the caramel is the ol' "cold water trick" described below. On my first try, I waited much too long to check the consistency. I envisioned mixing some tough substance and watching my wooden spoon break from being too weak to stir. In hindsight I realize the mixture was, in fact, 248 degrees and obviously much softer than in its cooled-version. I tossed a dollup of the mix into cold water and watched as a scary spidery piece formed into a rock-like statue. I followed through with the rest of the directions, in denial that my candy had been ruined, and was left with a sheet of caramel rock.

To be honest, this is still sitting in the bottom of my fridge. I am in the process of accepting the fact that I must throw it in the garbage. ~Sigh~

But, yes, attempt numero dos was a success! Woohoo! By checking the consistency early into the process, I was able to make soft & chewy caramel. I put the candies in brown lunch bags and punched a hole in the top for a festive red ribbon. Makes for a snazzy gift!

Here's what you need & what you do:

Ingredients

* 1 cup heavy cream

* 5 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into pieces

* 2 teaspoons sea salt, plus extra for sprinkling on top. Sea salt is found in specialty food stores under the name "fleur de sel."

* 1 1/2 cups sugar

* 1/4 cup light corn syrup

* 1/4 cup water


Equipment

* 8" square baking pan

* Parchment paper

* Candy thermometer (or a deep-fat thermometer)

* Wax paper for wrapping or paper candy cups

Yield: About 40 caramels.

Directions

* Line the bottom and sides of the pan with parchment paper and lightly oil the paper.

* Bring the cream, butter and sea salt to a boil in a small saucepan; remove from heat and set aside.

* Boil the sugar, corn syrup, and water in a heavy saucepan, stirring until sugar is dissolved. Bring to a boil, without stirring but gently swirling pan; then cook without stirring until the mixture reaches 248°F, the firm-ball stage.

* Carefully stir in the cream mixture—the mixture will bubble up. Simmer, stirring frequently, about 15 minutes. The temperature should not go higher than 250°F.

* CANDYMAKER TIP: To get the caramel consistency you want, test by dropping a spoonful of caramel into a bowl of cold water. It will form a ball, which you can test with your fingers. Stop cooking when the ball is the consistency that you want.

* Pour the mixture into the baking pan and cool 2 hours.

* OPTIONAL: You can enrobe your caramels in tempered melted chocolate; sprinkle the top with some grains of sea salt (pretty salts make a difference); or press in some culinary lavender buds.* Cut into 1-inch pieces, then wrap each piece in a 4-inch square of wax paper, folding ends or twisting to close like taffy.


Eat & Enjoy!

I found this recipe here.

until next time,


g