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random musings of a crazy cat lady

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Homemade caramels

I've been an anemic borderline low thyroid slug AND I've been on a diet. As a result I haven't baked or made any sweets in a while, and instead devoted what little energy I had in the evenings to watching "Game of Thrones" or Big Bang Theory reruns. A few days on iron pills and Zyrtek got me back to semi-normal. I'm going to wait a few more weeks and see if my energy level completely comes back; if it doesn't I'm going to be a honey badger about the thyroid thing.
Nonetheless, I now have enough energy to tire out the grad students during the day and exercise or cook after work. Last night it was both. I finally made a recipe for homemade caramels I'd been planning on making for more than a month.
I copied it from a post over at Bloatal Recall. There are some good pictures over there as well. I followed the recipe but didn't have any fleur de sel so I used a bit of kosher salt in the caramels and didn't sprinkle any on top at the end. If you don't have a candy thermometer, cook the syrup until it gets to the "hard ball" stage when dropped into cold water.

Yield: 40-50

1 cup heavy cream
5 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into pieces
1 teaspoon fleur de sel*, plus more for sprinkling
1 1/2 cups sugar
1/4 cup brown rice syrup (or light corn syrup)
1/4 cup water

*available at finer supermarkets and specialty foods shops and online

1. Line bottom and sides of an 8-inch square baking pan with parchment paper, then lightly oil parchment.
2. Bring cream, butter, and fleur de sel to a boil in a small saucepan, then remove from heat and set aside.
3. Boil sugar, brown rice syrup, and water in a 3- to 4-quart heavy saucepan, stirring until sugar is dissolved. Boil, without stirring but gently swirling pan, until mixture is a light golden caramel, about 8-10 minutes.
4. Carefully stir in cream mixture (mixture will bubble up) and simmer, stirring frequently, until caramel registers 250° F. on thermometer, 10 to 15 minutes. Pour into baking pan, sprinkle lightly with fleur de sel and cool for 2 hours.
5. Cut into 1-inch pieces, then wrap each piece in a 4-inch square of wax paper, twisting 2 ends to close.

They cooked up just as described. I poured the syrup into a greased pan and let it cool overnight. I then cut them into small pieces and wrapped them in wax paper. They were very tasty and rich - a lot better than the store bought ones. I will definitely make them again.

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