This was my first attempt at caramels. Anything that involves a candy thermometer usually immediately turns me off. But, after I made the Salted Maple Caramel Sauce for this cake a few weeks ago, I had to try these caramels from Ina's new book, "How Easy is That". Sea salt and caramel are my friend. They're not my ass's friend, however.
So, I got myself a candy thermometer and bit the bullet. Easy, peasy and a huge payoff for not much effort. I know I'm going to have to make another batch for Carly's party next weekend because these aren't going to last long around here.
Ina says this makes 16 caramels, but I got 24 because I cut the pieces a little smaller. Made me feel better about my ass.
Here's the recipe:
Fleur de Sel Caramels
The Barefoot Contessa, "How Easy is That"
1 1/2 cups sugar
1/4 cup light corn syrup
1 cup heavy cream
5 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 teaspoon fleur de sel, plus extra for sprinkling
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
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 o ver medium-high heat. Boil until the mixture is a warm golden brown. Don't stir - just swirl the pan. Watch carefully, as it can burn quickly at the end!
In the meantime, in a small pot, bring the cream, butter, and 1 teaspoon of fleur de sel to a simmer over medium heat. Turn off the heat and set aside.
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 vanilla with a wooden spoon and cook over medium-low heat for about 10 minutes, until the mixture reaches 248 degrees (firm ball) on a candy thermometer. Very carefully (it's hot!) pour the caramel into the prepared pan and refrigerate for a few hours, until firm.
When the caramels are cold, pry the sheet from the pan onto a cutting board. Cut the square in half. Starting with a long side, roll one piece of the caramel up tightly into an 8-inch long log. Repeat with the second piece. Sprinkle both logs with fleur de sel, trim the ends, and cut each log in 8 pieces. Cut glassine or parchment paper into 4 x 5 inch pieces and wrap each caramel individually, twisting the ends. Store in the refrigerator and serve the caramels chilled.