Okay, I’ve hijacked this blog once again to post a recipe of my own. Well, not exactly my own, it actually comes from the now sadly defunct “Gourmet Magazine,” circa 2006. But this is my go-to Christmas gift. Some people bake scads of holiday cookies and while I’ve done that too, it’s these Salted Chocolate Caramels that people actually remember and ask for, year after year. So here’s the recipe.
One important note: Candy thermometers and specific temperatures can make a recipe sound onerous and difficult, but the secret to this one is to read it all the way through each time you make it. I know, you’re ALWAYS supposed to read recipes all the way through, but I’m lazy and don’t. Trust me when I tell you I’ve thrown out just about as many batches as I’ve given away. And really, it’s all because I forget to read through the recipe. Just do it. It’s really not that hard. (The recipe, that is!)
Salted Chocolate Caramels
(from Gourmet Magazine, 2006)
2 cups heavy cream
10 1/2 oz fine-quality dark chocolate (no more than 60% cacao if marked), finely chopped
1 3/4 cups sugar
1/2 cup light corn syrup
1/4 cup water
1/4 teaspoon salt
3 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into tablespoon pieces
2 teaspoons flaky sea salt such as Maldon
Vegetable oil for greasing
1. Line bottom and sides of an 8-inch straight-sided square metal baking pan with 2 long sheets of crisscrossed parchment.
2. Bring cream just to a boil in a medium-sized saucepan over moderately high heat, then reduce heat to low and add chocolate. Let stand 1 minute, then stir until chocolate is completely melted. Remove from heat.
3. Bring sugar, corn syrup, water, and salt to a boil in a 5- to 6-quart heavy pot (I like to use a ceramic-coated, Le Creuset-style Dutch oven) over moderate heat, stirring until sugar is dissolved. Boil, uncovered, without stirring but gently swirling pan occasionally, until sugar is deep golden, about 10 minutes.
4. Carefully pour in chocolate mixture (be warned: mixture will bubble and steam vigorously). Continue to boil over moderate heat, stirring frequently, until mixture registers 255°F on thermometer, about 15 minutes. Be precise about this temperature — anything above 255 will give you an almost solid, hard candy.
5. Add butter, stirring until completely melted, then immediately pour into lined baking pan (do not scrape any caramel clinging to bottom or side of saucepan or else your finished product will have a burnt flavor to it.)
6. Let caramel stand 10 minutes, then sprinkle evenly with sea salt. Cool completely in pan on a rack, about 2 hours.
7. Carefully invert caramel onto a clean, dry cutting board, then peel off parchment. Turn caramel salt side up.
8. Lightly oil blade of a large heavy knife and cut into 1-inch squares.
Yield: 64 caramels
More notes: Additional sea salt can be pressed onto caramels after cutting.
Caramels keep, layered between sheets of parchment or wax paper, in an airtight container at cool room temperature 2 weeks or they can be wrapped in 4-inch squares of wax paper; twist ends to close.
Check out my pal Miranda Levenstein’s recipe blog here — she has this recipe posted there too, but with how-to pictures.