Sunday, January 8, 2012

Sea Salt Caramels With Bittersweet Chocolate

Whereas usually I bake cookies for christmas last christmas I decided to surprise my loved ones with homemade chocolates instead. I always thought the combination of caramel and salt is ingenious. Caramel simply tastes better with a dash of salt. 
So I decided to make chocolates with a salted-caramel filling and searched the internet for a good recipe.
This one here on sounded quite promising, and I decided to give it a try.

Ok, I need to confess something here. I kind of messed the recipe up. But making caramel and chocolates can be quite tricky, and so it happened that I misread a few things and didn't pay proper attention. Mine turned out way too heavy and too salty. Otherwise they would have been delicious, I swear. But I will point out exactly where I did wrong so this won't be happening to you, as well. Yes, I will at some point make them again. And for all the family members who were wondering why I had decided to kill them with a butter and salt overdose: was so much work that I simply could not toss all these little "goodies". I really hope they weren't that bad....

Anyway, here we go!

You'll need:

320 ml / 1 1/3 cup heavy cream
400g / 2 cups granulated sugar
120ml / 1/2 cup light corn syrup (or rice syrup, which you can get in organic stores/Bio-supermarkets)
80ml / 1/3 cup honey
6 Tbsp (85g or 3oz!!!) cold butter, cut into small pieces 
- Mistake No.1: I used about 200g (2.5oz) butter...
1tsp vanilla extract
3tsp sea salt (fleur de sel) 
- Mistake No2: Only 2tsp go into the caramel, the 3rd one is for garnish
450g / 1lb bittersweet chocolate, chopped


Prepare an 8-inch baking pan by lining it with aluminum foil and spraying the foil with nonstick cooking spray.

Place the cream in a large saucepan over medium-high heat and bring it to a boil. Stir in the sugar, corn syrup and honey and stir until it begins to boil. Periodically wipe down the sides of the pan with a pastry brush dipped in water to prevent sugar crystals from forming.

the caramel already turned a little browner but needs to get way darker

Cook the caramel, stirring occasionally, until it reaches 257 degrees on a candy thermometer.                 

I didn't have a candy thermometer, and it still worked out fine. You just really have to pay attention. Never leave the pot alone or get distracted. It takes a while until the caramel turns brown. It takes another while until the caramel gets darker brown. But then everything goes really quick and before you know it you may end up with burnt caramel. A thermometer may be a help but it's all about how quickly you can pull the caramel off the heat.
I also read on David Lebovitz's blog that you should avoid stirring the caramel if you can. Only carefully scrape the bottom of the pot every once in a while to prevent the caramel from burning.

You can see here, how dark my caramel got. The yellow part is the massive amount of butter, I stirred in...

Remove the pan from the heat immediately and stir in the butter, vanilla, and 2 teaspoons of salt.
Pour into prepared pan and let set at room temperature until firm enough to cut.

I couldn't cut my caramel at all. It was way too soft.
Cut the caramel into small squares or strips with a chef’s knife.

That's why I pulled out little bits and formed them to chocolates.
Btw, you see those tiny brown spots? That just indicates that my caramel almost burned.
I guess I was lucky.
See, due to the fact that I used far too much butter my caramel was way to soft to be cut. I had to put the whole pan intothe freezer, then pull out some caramel balls with my hands, form them and again put them back into the freezer. otherwise they would have just melted away once the melted chocolate would have hit it...

Temper the chocolate and dip the caramels in the chocolate one at a time. Place them on a baking sheet covered with waxed paper or foil to set. While chocolate is still wet, sprinkle on the remaining salt and allow to set completely.

PS: Even though I messed up a bit here, I can only highly encourage everyone to try making these chocolates. They will be absolutely delicious, when done right and make a wonderful gift!

1 comment:

  1. I'm totally going to make these, Julia. Thank you for sharing this looks so delicious. I'll let you know how it goes. Annaxx