Saturday, November 28, 2015

Homemade Caramels

Do you have a few extra hours today?     Want to spend them by the stove making as many calories as humanly possible in one pot?  And you have a candy thermometer at the ready?   Do you have real cream, butter and good vanilla?    Have I got the recipe for you! 

 I decided to try my hand at homemade caramels, so I read about 3 dozen recipes, decided I didn't want "microwave in seven minutes" or "open a can of sweetened condensed milk"  I wanted a recipe that belonged in my circa 1908 house ...      So I settled on this one: with a few modifications:

In a large pot (I used a seven qt dutch oven), combine:

1 qt (4 cups) heavy cream
3 cups white sugar
3 cups brown sugar
1 pint (2 cups) corn syrup
1 pound (4 sticks) butter, sliced into pieces
1 Tbs kosher salt

Mix them all in the pot, then move to stove on medium-low heat.    Once the ingredients are all melted (I'm looking at you butter chunks), you begin the very slow ascent to 248F on your thermometer.     You don't have to stir quite constantly, but much like when you're stirring risotto, you can't leave the room for five minutes.    It's not a bad project while socializing with a visitor at your kitchen counter ...

One of the things you can do while you get ready is VERY lightly butter a 13 x 9 pan.     I also readied a couple of mini pans.    Maybe thinly slice an apple, for sampling any "drips" ;)  

KEEP THE HEAT LOW - barely bubbling.    Your patience will be rewarded.     It took me about 2.25 hours to bring the temperature SLOWLY up to 248F.     Did I mention low heat and going slowly?

Once you reach 248 take the pot off the heat and stir in 3 Tablespoons of GOOD quality vanilla

Pour the hot caramel into the prepared pan(s).    The scrapings from the bottom of the pot go onto a plate for cook's treat.    Allow the caramels to cool for 20-30 minutes, then sprinkle with kosher salt flakes if desired.   Leave undisturbed for at least a few hours and preferably overnight.

Cut caramels into bite size pieces - small bites if you're going to serve directly on a tray, larger bites to wrap individually:

Caramels cut and wrapped in squares of parchment paper:

TINY cuts of caramel on a tray with Turkish figs, petite basque, Chianti salami, along with roasted baby brussel sprouts and pistachios: 

Try the caramel in your mouth with a nutty cheese!   (Dubliner, Petite Basque, Parrano ...)