Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Sweet and Salty

A friend of mine decided to make some basic caramels from a family recipe she received from a co-worker. After making a plain batch, she took the recipe and made several tasty variations. 

Dried Cherry Almond Caramels
The Cherry Almond slab getting cut up into bite-size pieces.

Sea Salt and Walnut
I love the combination of sweet caramel with a touch of salt for balance. The walnuts added a nice texture.

Creamy Chocolate Caramels
This version had a nice chocolate flavor, but would be really good with a kick of cayenne or something for more depth.

The cherry almond combo was my favorite. The dried cherries paired really well the caramel flavor (which you wouldn't expect) and the almond extract pulled all the flavors together.

The yummy caramels were wrapped in cute valentines foil, found here, and were given to a few lucky Valentine recepients.

Here's a good basic recipe to get started


2 cups white sugar
1 cup packed brown sugar

pinch of salt
1 cup corn syrup
1 cup evaporated milk
1 pint heavy whipping cream
1 cup butter
1 1/4 teaspoons vanilla extract

Grease a 12x15 inch pan.
In a medium-size pot, combine sugar, brown sugar, pinch of salt, corn syrup, evaporated milk, whipping cream, and butter. Monitor the heat of the mixture with a candy thermometer while stirring. When the thermometer reaches 250 degrees F (120 degrees C) remove the pot from the heat.

Stir in vanilla. Transfer mixture to the prepared pan and let the mixture cool completely. When cooled cut the Carmel into small squares and wrap them in wax paper for storage.

Tip for High Altitude:
Candy should come in 1 degree lower than indicated in the recipe for each increase of 500 feet above sea level. For instance if your recipe calls for 250 degrees and you live at 2000 feet above sea level, take 4 degrees off which would come to 246 degrees. 

So for us in Salt Lake, were at about 4,000 feet above sea level, so our caramel would be at the hard ball stage around 242-243 degrees.

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