Salt Caramels!

Someone found my blog yesterday by searching for “adorable small kitten in cup.” What the…? Not being particularly infatuated with cats, I’m pretty sure I’ve never written about them, although I do have one tiny picture of an adorable kitten, but, well… weird. Not nearly as random as when someone found my blog searching for “eating raw crescent dough” — that one just makes sense!

Anyway.

Last weekend, I made salt caramels.

Have you ever had a salt caramel? Let me describe. They are caramels… with salt. Salt IN the caramel, salt ON the caramel. They’re crazy. They’re famous. They’re kind of a trend right now. And since I love the sweet-salty thing, I thought I would give it a try.

I’d half-assedly tried to make caramel once before for some disastrous cupcakes, but this time I made sure I got it right. I wanted to get a candy thermometer, but instead Aussie made me get an instant-read one that would work for other things (in maybe the first display of practicality I’ve seen from him!)… and then rigged a holder out of a coat hanger to make it work. Damn, I wish I had gotten a picture.

Anyway… guys, these were easy! They were quite time consuming and served to make me even more neurotic than I already am (I stood over my stove patiently for the better part of an hour), not to mention cutting and wrapping them was a labor of love… but the result was very, very worth it.

Salt Caramels, slightly adapted from Epicurious.com

Some little tips. Heat slowly — it takes forever, but low heat is more forgiving. I cooled them for 2 hours on the counter, and learned quickly that they needed about 15 minutes in the fridge to make cutting anything other than frustrating and near-impossible. Little  4″ squares of wax paper should definitely be cut by a cute Australian engineer to ease the wrapping process. I got 58 small caramels out of this recipe (eventually, and of various sizes… next time I’ll cut 6 columns and 10 rows to get 60 even). Bonus — when you cut them small, they come out to just 1 PointsPlus each!

1 cup heavy cream

5 tbs unsalted butter, cut into pieces

3/4 tsp + more for sprinkling sea salt (the recipe called for fleur de sel, but I was unwilling to experiment with the pricey stuff… and this worked just fine!)

1 1/2 cups sugar

1/4 cup light corn syrup

1/4 cup water

Line bottom and sides of an 8″ pan with parchment paper, and then spray very lightly with cooking spray.

Put cream, butter, and 3/4 tsp salt in small saucepan and bring to a boil. Remove from heat and set aside. Stir occasionally to prevent a skin from forming.

Put sugar, corn syrup, and water in a 3-4 quart saucepan over medium-low or medium heat (make sure it doesn’t have a dark bottom… you need to monitor color). You’ll eventually heat this to boiling and then keep it there. Stir until sugar is dissolved, then just gently swirl pan until mixture is a light amber color.

Put a candy thermometer in the sugar pot. Carefully stir in cream mixture a little bit at a time (it will bubble like crazy, and may clump up), stirring frequently, until caramel mixture is 248F. Epicurious says this takes 10-15 mins, but it took me more like 30. That doesn’t mean you can take your eye off it, though! It can go from good to bad in seconds.

Immediately pour caramel into baking pan (don’t scrap the dregs off the bottom — they are hotter and will get harder than you want for caramel during cooling). Cool on the counter for about 10 minutes, then sprinkle evenly (but not too heavily) with extra salt. Allow to cool for another 2 hours. Then, put caramel in the fridge for 15 minutes or so, and cut into pieces. Wrap each piece in a 4″ square of wax paper and twist the ends of close.

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