When I said it was time to indulge in a couple sweet treats, I wasn’t kidding =P It’s the day before Halloween and I’m already craving something sweet… something sticky and creamy, buttery, of course, a little nutty and perhaps a little French-y. If there’s a candy that can satisfy all those cravings, it’s gotta be fleur de sel caramels! These taste divine and look so lovely, I bet you can’t eat just one. Even Anthony, who’s never liked caramels before cause they tend to get stuck in your teeth, couldn’t resist a second helping! Now, that’s always a good sign
For my first batch, I added only hazelnuts, which turned out great, but since then, I’ve experimented with different nuts and one of the better combinations turned out to be hazelnuts with almonds, so definitely feel free to play around with your own creations. If you have a nut allergy, you can omit the nuts all together and still have a delectable little morsel at hand. You really can’t go wrong =)
Now, I like my caramels a bit on the softer side, so I cook it to around 245°F. If you prefer harder caramels, you can cook it up to 248°F, or if you like your caramels super soft, stop the cooking around 242°F. The important thing is to have all the ingredients and cookware close by, so you don’t waste any time once the caramel reaches the right color. You’ll have to move fast. Make sure to heat the cream and milk mixture before you add it to the caramel, otherwise, you’ll have an erupting pot of caramel that won’t be a pretty sight, not to mention, dangerous! Even with the heated cream and milk mixture, the caramel will still bubble, but it’ll be contained, so use a big pot and you won’t have to worry about erupting hot lava. I actually think a bit of bubbling adds to the Halloween effect; I secretly pretend I’m stirring up a witches brew, hehe… shhh
So once the cooked caramel reaches 245°F, turn off the heat and immediately stir in the nuts. Remember to work quickly at this point! You just need to give the caramel a quick stir and pour it straight into the prepared baking pan. Like I said before, make sure everything you need is close by. You definitely don’t want to be running across the kitchen with a pot full of hot caramel. If there’s anything I took away from pastry class, it’s that sugar burns can scar for life ><
Oh, and in case you have trouble finding glucose, head to your neighborhood craft store, like Michael’s. Light corn syrup isn’t nearly as thick as glucose so it’s best not to substitute here. Even if you have to go out of your way to get yourself some glucose, it’ll be worth it, trust me Happy Halloween, everyone!
|PREP TIME||5 Min|
|COOK TIME||25 Min|
|READY IN||2 Hr 30 Min|
|SERVINGS||about 4 dozen candies|
|1 1/4||cups sugar|
|5||tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch pieces|
|1/2||cup hazelnuts, toasted and coarsely chopped|
|“fleur de sel” sea salt|
|8 x 8-inch square brownie pan|
|Heat-resistant spatula or whisk|
|Chef’s knife (See the Guide)|
- Line the bottom and sides of an 8 x 8-inch square brownie pan with two overlapping strips of parchment paper. Lightly grease the parchment paper with cooking spray.
- In a large saucepan, combine the sugar and glucose and stir with a heat-resistant spatula over medium-high heat just until combined. Bring the mixture to a boil, uncovered, without stirring, but gently swirling the saucepan occasionally, until the mixture turns into a rich caramel, about 10 minutes.
- Meanwhile, split the vanilla bean in half, lengthwise and scrape out the pulp using a paring knife. Place the cream, milk, vanilla bean and its pulp in a small saucepan. Bring to a simmer over medium low heat. Remove from the heat, set aside, and keep warm.
- Once the caramel reaches the right color, remove from the heat and very carefully pour in the warmed cream mixture. (Be extra careful as the mixture will bubble and steam vigorously.) Stir with a heat-resistant spatula or whisk to combine. Discard the vanilla bean and stir in the butter pieces with a pinch of fleur de sel.
- Return to the heat and continue to cook over medium heat, stirring frequently until the caramel registers 245°F on a candy thermometer, about 10-13 more minutes. (For softer caramels, cook to 242°F; for harder caramels, cook to 248°F.) Remove from the heat and quickly stir in the chopped, toasted hazelnuts. Immediately pour the caramel into the prepared baking pan at once. Do not scrape the bottom or sides of the saucepan.
(To wash the saucepan, soak it in warm water to dissolve any excess caramel.)
- Let the caramel sit for 10 minutes, then lightly sprinkle with a pinch or two of fleur de sel. Allow to cool completely, about 2 hours, before cutting into 1-inch square pieces. Enjoy now or store in an airtight container for up to two weeks.