Sunday, April 24, 2011

Vanilla Bean Sea Salt Caramels


A couple weeks ago my friend Ellen and I had another one of our get togethers where we make delicious treats. This time we made Sea Salt Caramels and Pralines. I always assumed that candy making was much harder than it actually is. I will post the pralines for a later day and will stick to the caramels for now (did anybody else just see my pun?). These caramels were delicious! I can't say enough about them. They are sweet, salty, chewy, and everything you want a caramel to be. We each made our own pan and it made a ton! We did not count, but each batch made at least 50. The only thing I did not like about these caramels was rolling them individually in parchment. You really can't skip this step because they will stick together, but it is worth it!

Check out Ellen's post where she has more step by step photos here.

Vanilla Bean Sea Salt Caramels
recipe adapted from Ina Garten

Vegetable oil
1/4 cup water
1 1/2 cups sugar
1/4 cup light corn syrup
1 cup heavy cream
5 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 teaspoon sea salt, plus extra for sprinkling
1/2 - 1 vanilla bean (depending on size)

Line an 8-inch-square baking pan with parchment paper, allowing it to drape over 2 sides, then brush the paper lightly with oil.

In a deep saucepan (6 inches wide and 4 1/2 inches deep), combine 1/4 cup water, the sugar and corn syrup and bring them to a boil over medium-high heat. Boil until the mixture is a warm golden brown. Don't stir -- just swirl the pan.

In the meantime, in a small pot, bring the cream, butter and 1 teaspoon of sea salt to a simmer over medium heat. Turn off the heat and set aside. Skim off any excess milk solids and discard.

When the sugar mixture is done, turn off the heat and slowly add the cream mixture to the sugar mixture. Be careful -- it will bubble up violently. Stir in the beans from the vanilla bean with a wooden spoon and cook over medium-low heat for about 10 minutes, until the mixture reaches 248 degrees F (firm ball) on a candy thermometer.

Very carefully pour the caramel into the prepared pan and refrigerate, until firm.

When the caramel is cold, pry the sheet from the pan onto a cutting board. Cut the square in half. Starting with a long side, roll the caramel up tightly into an16-inch-long log. Sprinkle the log with fleur de sel, trim the ends and cut into 1/2 inch pieces. It's easier to cut the caramels if you brush the knife with flavorless oil like corn oil.

Cut glassine or parchment paper into 4-by-5-inch pieces and wrap each caramel individually, twisting the ends.

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