Don’t be freaked out about making candy. Candy making is certainly not my forte so believe me when I say that these little bites of gooey chocolaty rich goodness are not that hard to make. So put your apron and your “can do” attitude on and get cooking because these are well worth it. Besides, it is cheaper to make these candies at home than paying $2.50 a pop in a gourmet chocolate shop.
I remember having salted chocolate caramels with my mom in a chocolate shop in St. Louis. It was a number of years back and thought they were the most wonderful thing ever to grace a display case. (If you can’t tell, I am more interested in beautiful food than shoes or handbags.) What I love is the irresistible combination of chewy caramel that sticks in your teeth while the bittersweet chocolate coats your palate and the touch of salt slowly dissolves in your mouth. Yes, I was eating one while typing!
In hindsight, I should not have added this recipe into my repertoire. The results havecertainly wiggled their way down my hips and are evident on the digital numbers glaring up at me from an unhappy scale. But they are yummy, easy, and elegant so how bad can that be?
The recipe is slightly modified from one I came across by Ina Garten and deserves to be made at least once – I would recommend not so close to the New Year’s resolution you made a few weeks back (that is if you made one . . . and clearly I did not).
- 1 ½ cups granulated sugar
- ¼ cup light corn syrup
- 1 cup heavy cream
- 5 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 1 teaspoon fleur de sel (a.k.a. sea salt), plus extra for sprinkling
- ½ teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- 4 oz. bittersweet chocolate
- 1 tablespoon butter
- Line an 8-inch-square baking pan with parchment paper, allowing it to come up the sides.
- In a deep saucepan (3 qt.), 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.
- Meanwhile, in a small saucepan bring the heavy cream, butter and 1 teaspoon of fleur de sel to a simmer over medium-low heat. Turn off the heat and set aside.
- When the sugar mixture is golden brown, turn off the heat and slowly add the cream mixture to the sugar mixture. Be careful -- it will bubble up violently. Stir in the vanilla with a wooden spoon and cook over medium-low heat for about 10 minutes, until the mixture reaches 248 degrees F (firm ball stage) on a candy thermometer.
- Very carefully pour the hot caramel into the prepared pan and let cool until firm. When cool, cut caramel into bite-sized pieces. (If you like sprinkle salt on these and eat them plain, if desired.
- For chocolate covered caramels, cut the chocolate into small pieces and place in a bowl set over simmering water (or in a double boiler). Slowly melt the chocolate and stir in the butter to combine.
- Dip the caramel pieces in melted chocolate until coated. Place on parchment paper and let cool. Sprinkle with fleur de sel. (Trim the excess chocolate from the bottom for a neater presentation.)