Welcome to Christmas Candy Fest 2010. Over the last few days, my girlfriend Paula and I made some delicious gift-worthy treats. When we were finished, we had 30 boxes of 5 different homemade candies and, yes, they were all fantabulous!…if I do say so myself.
So with my next series of posts, I’m going to share the triumphs, the heartaches and the recipes from this endeavor starting with one of my favorites, Sea Salt Caramels.
I still remember the first time I tasted homemade caramels. It was President’s Day Weekend 197? and I was staying with my mother at La Push Beach on the Washington State peninsula. La Push has become a tiny bit famous in the last few years because it is near Forks, the setting for the uberpopular Twilight Series. When I was a kid, my family would spend that cold wet holiday at the beach every year. It was peaceful, but the beach was windy and wild. Crashing waves littered the rough sand with driftwood the size of full-grown trees, no joke. One year, I made a “beach friend” and her mother prepared the caramels right there in their condo kitchenette. It was bitter cold outside, but the caramels smelled buttery and warm. We could barely wait for them to cool. This was my very first exposure to homemade candy.
In the last few years, I’ve made this recipe many times. Soft, sweet and just a bit salty, the caramels get wrapped like little dime-store candies. These petite packages make an easy and delicious gift.
Sea Salt Caramels
Adapted from a recipe in Gourmet
- 1 cup heavy cream
- 5 tablespoons unsalted butter plus more for greasing
- 1 teaspoon sea salt
- 1 1/2 cups sugar
- 1/4 cup light corn syrup
- 1/4 cup water
- wax paper for wrapping
Makes 64 individually wrapped caramels
Line bottom and sides of an 8-inch square baking pan with parchment paper, then lightly butter the parchment.
Bring cream, butter, and sea salt to a boil in a small saucepan, then remove from heat and set aside.
Boil sugar, corn syrup, and water in a 3- to 4-quart heavy saucepan, stirring just until sugar is dissolved. Then boil, without stirring, until the mixture just starts to turn color. At that point, you can swirl the pan a little to even out the color as it continues to darken. It’s done when the color is what you want for your caramel, maybe even just a shade darker because it will lighten when you add the cream mixture.
Carefully stir in cream mixture (mixture will bubble up) and simmer, stirring frequently, until caramel registers 248°F on thermometer (aka “Firm Ball” stage).
Pour into the prepared pan and cool 2 hours at room temperature. When cool and firm, pull it out of the pan using the parchment and cut into 1-inch pieces.
Then wrap each piece in a 4-inch square of wax paper, twisting the ends to close.
Now who gets to eat them?