Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Fleur de Sel Caramels

French cuisine has to be my favorite cuisine of them all, not just because it tastes great (which it so does) but because of how classic it is. Don't you just feel more sophisticated when you're eating a soufflé or a croissant or coq au vin or brie or buerre blanc? Well no one just eats buerre blanc, but you know what I mean. So many classic techniques come from French cooking. So I absolutely adore it.

Which brings me to today's recipe...fleur del sel caramels! Fleur de sel is a French salt that is hand-harvested from the sea (thanks, Wikipedia). It has a relatively milder salt-flavor than your typical table salt so it doesn't over-power the taste buds as one would imagine. I'd seen it used many times on the Food Network and was always intrigued by the use of it in sweet dishes. When I found a simple recipe from Ina Garten, I thought, why not? Ina makes it look so simple! I can do this.

I've been wanting to make these for the looooooongest time. So when I found out my friend at work loves butterscotch I thought...(1) I can make fleur de sel caramels for her! and (2) caramels are like butterscotch, right? Close enough.

Before I go on, you must see how they came out:








Surprisingly, these weren't that difficult or time consuming to make. However, you do have to watch the caramel the entire time as it cooks because it can go from good to burnt in a matter of seconds. Seconds, people! This is no joke.

As for the flavor, it's on point! The salt added the perfect balance so these were not overly sweet. In case I haven't mentioned it before, I'm more a chocolate fan, mostly because of its rich flavor. So I'm not into really, really sweet things (i.e. icing, Skittles, maple syrup, etc). Usually this includes caramels but these were too amazing to resist. And just the right amount to sweetness. They look like they'd be chewy and sticky, but they're not at all! They melt in your mouth as soon as they hit your tongue so they don't even have a second of hang-time on your teeth before they head down to your stomach (too graphic? at least you get the picture).

Hope you like them!

Recipe (courtesy of Ina Garten on the Food Network):

  •  Vegetable oil
  • 1 1/2 cups sugar
  • 1/4 cup light corn syrup
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 5 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1 teaspoon fleur de sel, plus extra for sprinkling
  • 1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
Line an 8-inch-square baking dish with parchment paper, allowing it to drape over 2 sides, then brush the paper lightly with oil. This is very important. The caramel will stick to the parchment paper if you do not grease it properly.

In a deep saucepan, combine 1/4 cup water, the sugar and corn syrup and bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Boil until the mixture is a warm golden brown. Don’t stir – just swirl the pan.

This is the corn syrup and sugar mixture before it gets that caramel color we're looking for.

In the meantime, in a small pot, bring the cream, butter and 1 teaspoon of fleur de sel to a simmer over medium heat. Turn off the heat and set aside.

When the sugar mixture is done, turn off the heat and slowly add the cream mixture to the sugar mixture. Be careful – it will bubble up violently. Stir in the vanilla with a wooden spoon and cook over medium-low heat for about 10 minutes, until the mixture reaches 248 degrees F (firm ball) on a candy thermometer.

This is the caramel when it's done!
 
Very carefully (it’s hot!) pour the caramel into the prepared pan and refrigerate for a few hours, until firm.

When the caramel is cold, pry the sheet from the pan onto a cutting board. Brush a knife with flavorless oil such as corn oil to make the cutting easier. Cut the square in half. Starting with a long side, roll the caramel up tightly into an 8-inch-long log. Trim the ends and cut into 8 pieces. Repeat with the other half. If you like, you can cut again into smaller pieces. Sprinkle with additional fleur de sel.

Cut parchment paper into 4-by-5-inch pieces and wrap each caramel individually, twisting the ends. Store in the refrigerator and serve the caramels chilled. I tried keeping them at room temperature but they loose their shape and get a tad sticky. So save yourself (and your tasters) the trouble and just keep them in the fridge :)

2 comments:

  1. Oooo boy do those look incredible. I've never made my own caramel candy. I've put homemade caramel in other things but never stand alone. The salt just adds more degrees of deliciousness to it. Can't wait to try this!

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  2. It's super simple! Let me know how they turn out :)

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