Salted Caramels. These were a major achievement. Before this, caramel was both my greatest love and my nemesis. First, there was the caramel popcorn. 3 attempts at that- 3 failures- ended up with some vegan crap, burnt caramel and some lovely burn scars to boot. I bought a candy thermometer- piece of shit, mind you. If you can’t tell the right fucking temperature then what good are you? The first batch, I wrongly assumed my thermometer would be correct, so I burned to shit. (btw I first tried david leibovitz’s recipe, oy vey.) Next, I turned to dear ol’ Ina. This recipe is published in 2 different ways on the food network website- but thanks to the 109 comments, i figured out which was right. I might have fucked these up in one way– it calls for 1.5 cups of sugar… I definitely added the half and honestly couldn’t remember if I added the one. I was pretty sure that I didn’t- so I was preparing myself for disaster. But in the end, whatever I did worked out fine. Lastly, the thing to know is that making caramels is a pain in the ass. Also, since candy thermometers are a joke, a few tricks around it. But they are insanely delicious– like really– insanely delicious.
As David Leboveitz writes, when you are making caramels, one should be like a surgeon and carefully lay out all the tools– or as Jenna would say– make sure everything is mis en place.
Vegetable oil/pam spray
1 1/2 cups sugar
1/4 cup light corn syrup
1 cup heavy cream
5 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 teaspoon fine fleur de sel, plus extra for sprinkling [if you can’t find, use sea salt- sea salt is pretty strong so many can use just a touch less]
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
First, line your baking sheet with foil or parchment. I went foil. Spray with Pam or brush with a little vegetable oil. Next, put your cream, butter and 1 tsp salt in a small saucepan. Heat up cream on medium. Once it starts to simmer, take off heat, and cover to keep warm. Put the water, sugar and corn syrup in a medium saucepan. Heat sugar mix on med-high until boiling. Don’t stir, swizzle pan if you have to. Watch very very closely. Wait until it turns a “warm golden brown color.” This is the most important- yet easiest to fuck up part. Too early, you got nothing. But then, really quickly it will turn from nice golden into burnt. So watch closely for warm golden- you’ll know what that means when you see it. Take off heat.
Slowly pour the cream mixture into the caramel, will bubble up violently. Stir in the vanilla. Put back to a medium-low heat.
Now, they say the goal is 248 and that should take 10 minutes. Mine did not reach that temp- and cooked past that time. So here is the trick- you want it to get to the “firm ball stage.” After 10 minutes you can start testing. So get a little bowl of water, and you drop some caramel into it. When you go to fish out the caramel, it should retain its shapes- but still be pliable. A lot of people on food network comments said their’s was too hard, so I further think- you don’t need to wait until 248 (cuz you can’t trust the thermometers anyway). But do it until firm ball… I think this took mine like 15/20 minutes? Just keep testing it. Once it is done, pour into prepped pan and refrigerate to cool for a couple hours. Then, you start on one end and you roll up half, cut down the middle, then roll up there other half. So you have two 8 inch logs. Sprinkle w. more salt. Cut into pieces. Wrap individually in parchment or wax paper- this keeps them from sticking together too. Can keep in fridge or room temperature- fridge helps them keep there shape a little more- but it really depends on how soft yours turn out. Mine were just the right amount of soft and chewy… I sure hope I can replicate them…