Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Vanilla Bean Caramels

adapted just slightly from: Annie's Eats

My first attempt at a recipe that requires a candy thermometer! These were actually very easy to make, and I am going to put them in the goody boxes that I give to my coworkers on Friday (along with a couple of kinds of cookies). I used fleur de sel from Williams-Sonoma, because I wasn't sure if the regular coarse sea salt that I already had in my cabinet would be too salty or not. I even had to substitute some of the sugar for turbinado, because I was inexplicably out of sugar. I ended up using about 1/2 regular and 1/2 turbinado, and it still turned out just fine.

Yield: 64 caramels

1 cup heavy cream
5 tbsp. unsalted butter
½ tsp. vanilla extract
1 vanilla bean pod, split lengthwise and scraped
1¼ tsp. fleur de sel, plus more for sprinkling
1½ cups sugar
¼ cup light corn syrup
¼ cup water

Line the bottom and sides of an 8-inch square baking dish with parchment paper. Lightly butter the parchment.

In a small saucepan, combine the cream, butter, vanilla extract, vanilla bean seeds, pods, and fleur de sel. Heat over medium-high heat and bring to a boil. Remove from the heat and set aside.

In a medium saucepan, combine the sugar, corn syrup, and water. Heat over medium-high heat, stirring occasionally until the sugar is dissolved. Boil, without stirring but gently swirling the pan occasionally, until the mixture is a light golden caramel color.

Remove the vanilla bean pods from the cream mixture and carefully stir the cream mixture into the caramel – the mixture will bubble up, so pour slowly and stir constantly. Continue simmering the mixture until it registers 248˚ F on a candy thermometer (keep an eye on it so it doesn't bubble over or burn - I continued to stir it while it heated up to temp). Immediately remove from the heat and pour into the prepared pan. Let cool for 15 minutes, then sprinkle lightly with additional fleur de sel. Continue to let sit until completely set and cooled. Cut into 1-inch pieces (a buttered pizza cutter works well). Wrap the individual caramels in small pieces of wax or parchment paper, about 4-inch squares.

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