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Salty Sweet & Sticky ~ Sea Salt Caramels

December 11, 2009

These are special.  Not because they contain rare and expensive ingredients or because they are incredibly labor-intensive, but because they are beautiful and because they are truly delicious and because they will be made by you for someone you love.  Very, very special.

A box of chocolates invokes many images.  Maybe you think of the large, rose-laden Valentines that will be pushing the Christmas decorations off the shelves any week now.  Or, Forrest Gump, who reminded us that “life is like a box of chocolates”.  Of course, I am reminded of my ornery grandmother Frances’ box of Whitman’s that I would chew my way through, nibbling on each until I found the caramel which was always small and square (never large enough and never enough of them).

Chocolate has been equated with love for centuries and rightly so.  Chocolate is high into phenylethylamine–the
very substance that is released by the brain into the bloodstream as a concomitant of falling in love.  I like chocolate, I don’t love it … but I do love caramel.  Caramel – quite possibly the most simple confection of them all, and yet elusive to so many.

So tune in friends, you CAN do this. 

The only oddball piece of equipment I use when making these (that you may not have) is a square silicon mold that you can find at any crafting store.  Michael’s even sells it in two colors, blue & brown, distributed by Wilton.  You can just as easily roll the caramel into small balls and dip them in chocolate.  The mold is completely optional.

Making the caramel:

Prepare a cookie sheet with either:  silpat, parchment paper, aluminum foil with a very light coating of vegetable spray

  • In a heavy saucepan, over medium low heat, combine:  1 cup of sugar, 1 cup of light corn syrup, 1/2 cup butter, and 1/2 cup heavy cream. 

 

  • Bring to a simmer, stirring constantly, and then cook, without stirring until a candy thermometer reads 240°F (about 7 minutes).   I always draw a line at the desired temp with a magic marker – just to be sure.  (a couple of degrees can make a big difference when making caramel)

  • Remove from heat and pour in (another) 1/2 cup heavy cream.  Stir to mix well.  The mixture will bubble a bit.

 

  • Return the pan to the heat and continue to cook until the thermometer reads 244°F (about 10 minutes).
  • Remove from the heat and pour the mixture into a prepared pan.  I pour mine into a rectangular shape because that makes it easier for me to keep the portions even when cutting each portion.

  • DO NOT scrape the pan with a spoon – there’s a good chance that some of that mixture on the bottom is a bit hotter and has moved on to the hard stage.
  • Let stand for about 2 hours.  Caramel should be firm but not hard.

Preparing the molds:

  • Melt about 2 cups of chocolate in a double boiler or in the microwave.  You can use chocolate chip morsels or almond bark or any chocolate you choose.  I like the Ghirardelli double chocolate.  I chop it very fine and heat it in a heavy bowl in the microwave for about a minute, stopping to stir at 30 seconds.

 

  • You don’t have to do anything to prepare the mold.  Just be sure it is clean and dry.
  • Place about a teaspoon of chocolate in each mold (a couple at a time).  I use a paintbrush to pull the chocolate up on the sides. 

  • Allow this to become firm.  To speed the process up, stick the mold in the fridge for five minutes.  You shouldn’t be able to see any of the blue mold through the chocolate. 

Adding the Caramel:

  • Slice your caramel into four equal strips and then fold the caramel over on itself.  You will be able to stretch it and pull it with ease.  Slice the strip into 12 equal portions (or as close as you can get), each just a bit smaller than the mold size.
  • Take each square of caramel and place it in the chocolate covered mold.  Press down firmly in all directions.  You don’t want any bubbles between the caramel and the chocolate below it. 

 

  • Fold another strip over on itself, cut into 12 portions and finish filling the mold.  You will have enough caramel to fill the mold twice (48 pieces).
  • When the mold is full, sprinkle each caramel with a few grains of sea salt or kosher salt.

Close the deal:

  • Reheat your chocolate for about fifteen or thirty seconds.  Spoon enough on top of each caramel to cover and fill in the gaps around the edges. 

  • After the chocolate sets up, gently press up from the bottom while pulling  the mold away from the side of each chocolate.  It will pop right out.

  • Now you can wrap them, box them, decorate them, or just eat them … I suggest all of the above!
  • This is my favorite way to decorate chocolates.   Using food glitter (sold near the fondant tools), gently smudge a stamp into the powder and then press onto the chocolate.  I had a little trouble capturing the sparkle with the camera, but I can tell you that this is precious!

 

 

The scalloped box is by Martha Stewart and is available where ever MS crafting products are sold.

REMEMBER!  You do not have to go through the molding process.  You can simply roll the caramel into balls after it has cooled and then dip the balls in chocolate.  They will taste just as delicious – I promise! 

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3 Comments leave one →
  1. Lisa permalink
    December 11, 2009 11:41 pm

    Yikes! Drooling. Are those wrapped individually in that last photo? You’ve inspired me – I even have a tempering machine (I took a class with Alice Medrich) because I got hooked on tempering chocolate.

    Those look delicious! Want some now. Chocolate covered caramels are my favorites in the box of chocolates…

  2. December 13, 2009 9:12 pm

    These are fantastic. Ann made these for my bunko group and they were gone lickity split! Thanks for the step by step. Not sure if I have the patience to make these. haha That’s why I am so lucky to live down the street from you!!

  3. Lee permalink
    December 19, 2009 12:51 am

    wow…they look so delish! I’ll have to try it with dark chocolate. I love the combo of dark choc and caramel. Thank you for the step-by-step.

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