I've been on the caramel train lately. The Salt Caramel Molten Cake at Le Chalet des Iles started the locomotion. I then adapted it to a Salt Caramel Chocolate Molten Cake. Well, I came home from a very late night flight a few days ago and my son had made a caramel sauce while I was gone. He didn't mean for it to be a sauce. It didn't firm up, so we now had a creamy honey caramel sauce. Since he really wanted it to be soft and chewy caramel candy, I tried a different recipe. His recipe used honey and even though he got it to the required 248 degrees, my suspicion is that the honey somehow prevented it from hardening more. With the ingredients already on hand from his recipe, I thought I'd give it a try. I used a Fleur de Sel Caramel recipe from Epicurious.com that had very positive comments. I love to read what other people say about their attempts at a recipe, sometimes it saves a lot of trouble. I made a few changes as I went along. The caramel turned out to be the perfect chewy consistency with a rich and creamy texture. We now have all of the caramel we need to indulge in more molten cakes, ice cream toppings, and afternoon snacking. I think it's time to stop at the station and get off of that caramel train now!
Fleur de Sel Caramels
(adapted from epicurious.com)
1 cup heavy cream
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
5 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into pieces
1/2 teaspoon fleur de sel, plus more for sprinkling on top
1 1/2 cups sugar
1/4 cup light corn syrup
1/4 cup water
You will also need parchment paper and candy thermometer.
Bring cream, vanilla, butter, and fleur de sel to a boil in a small saucepan, then remove from heat and set aside.
Add sugar, corn syrup, and water to a 3- to 4-quart heavy saucepan, stirring with a wooden spoon until sugar is dissolved. Boil, without stirring but gently swirling pan, until mixture is a light golden caramel. Watch so it doesn't burn or get too brown.
Carefully and very slowly stir in cream mixture (mixture will bubble up)* and simmer, stirring frequently, until caramel registers 248°F on thermometer, 10 to 15 minutes. Adjust heat if needed. Pour into baking pan and cool 2 hours.** Cut into 1-inch pieces and sprinkle each piece with a pinch (increase or decrease to taste) of fleur de sel. Then wrap each piece in a 4-inch square of wax paper, parchment or cellophane, twisting 2 ends to close.
*the mixture can bubble up violently while adding the cream mixture in, so take precautions.
**On humid days, the caramel may become sticky. If it does, refrigerate before cutting and wrapping.
Written and photographed by Diane.