I’d been ogling recipes for salted butter caramels for a while, but it wasn’t until I found myself writing an article recently that I got around to actually making some. I was sorely tempted to make Alice Medrich’s honey caramels from Pure Dessert, but felt that I should really start with something basic, so I eventually found a recipe on Epicurious that seemed like a good guide.
Not being very experienced in candymaking, I was a little concerned over choosing just the right pot for the job. I ended up choosing my four-quart Le Creuset Dutch oven, which turned out to be perfect: any smaller and the caramel would have bubbled up and gotten all over the stove (and wouldn’t THAT be fun to clean up), any bigger and it would’ve been hard to work with.
The first part of the recipe should have been preparing the pan; of course, I forgot and had to ask my helpful husband to do it for me while I had two bubbling pots on the stove. Bad planning on my part. Anyway, he lined an 8×8″ pyrex pan with parchment paper and oiled it lightly. Sounds like foil would work just as well.
The next step was to combine butter, cream and salt in a small saucepan, bring it all to a boil, then set it aside. Mmmm, butter.
Then, in the Dutch oven, I combined sugar, water and corn syrup. I brought it to a boil and watched while it did that cool quilted effect with the bubbles. Eventually, it turned a pretty shade of gold and I poured in the cream mixture.
It boiled up really impressively – thank goodness I was using a big enough pan, or this would have become very painful, very quickly. I stirred and stirred, and it settled into a lovely golden froth. I hooked our old candy thermometer (accuracy unknown) on the side of the pan and crossed my fingers.
When the thermometer read 248°, I turned off the heat and poured the caramel into the baking dish. It started to harden right away, taking on a highly reflective finish. We ate the leftover caramel out of the pot (for quality control, you understand), and left the pan to cool.
Once the pan felt cool on the bottom, I popped out the caramel onto a cutting board and attempted to cut it into candy-like shapes. It was pretty firm, so it took some muscle, but the pieces popped apart beautifully with a bit of pressure. Oiling the knife might have helped if I’d thought of it.
Then I cut some parchment rectangles and wrapped up the individual candies. Now that part was a pain in the butt. But worth it – look how cute they look! I’ll have to find some cellophane for wrapping the next batch. Christmas packages, here I come!
By the way, they taste fabulous. In case you were wondering.