The Christmas candy recipes parade marches on and chocolate covered yummies is definitely trending this week (at least on this site). On Monday, you saw chocolate covered strawberries and today I give you chocolate covered caramels – with sea salt. Wait until Friday’s drink post.
Last year I posted a recipe for sea salt caramels that was pretty popular. Not only was this one of the most popular candy recipes on the site, but the people who received the caramels in their gift packages were begging for more, long after the holidays. So I had lots of opportunities to play with the recipe and the technique of making them.
I started dunking some of the sea salt caramels into bittersweet chocolate. Sure, I’ve had my share of caramel and chocolate candies over the years, but after realizing that homemade caramels took me to nirvana I thought giving them a bath in some bittersweet caramels and put the salt on top of the chocolate. Little did I know that I would be creating a monster a Chocolate Covered Caramels (with sea salt) monster. It got to the point where I had to get them out of the house soon after they cooled. Craig would come home from work and find the tell-tale chocolate crumbs that I had been snacking (ok, making a meal out of) chocolate covered caramels. I would strongly advise against doing this…but then I would be a hypocrite, wouldn’t I?
Updates from the original recipe:
- Added a tablespoon of vanilla extract to give a more distinct flavor when dipping in chocolate.
- Stir, stir, stir. Stirring continuously after adding the cream and butter gives a softer/chewier caramel that’s perfect for coating.
Tips for making the best caramels:
- Use a heavy saucepan. You need something that conducts heat evenly. (Don’t use a non-stick pan…you don’t need it.)
- Use a good, clip on the pot, candy thermometer. Temperature is critical when making caramels. Don’t use one of those probe thermometers, you’ll break it because the cord will (at some point) get too close to the flame or bottom of the hot pot and be nuked.
- Do not use ultra pasteurized heavy cream. You can use pasteurized cream.
- Use the freshest cream and butter to get the very best flavored caramels.
- If you are having some difficulty cutting the caramels, you can slightly heat the blade of your knife before cutting.
- I’ve made a video so that you can see what it’s like when you make the caramel: How to Make Caramels Video
Speaking of sticky stuff…and no, I’m not going there. I’m talking about situations. Sticky situations seem to be a bit more prevalent this time of year. You can print this out and keep it in your purse and think of it as a reference guide to get you through the holidays.
Your male co-worker or boss is drunk at the company holiday party and keeps making passes at you – Convince him to go into the copy room with you. Get him to drop his drawers and put his business on the copier. Push the button (the copier button) make 3 copies…give him 1 as a little momento of your precious time together and you keep the other 2. You may just have gained job security, a promotion or a cash settlement that will keep you in Louboutins for at least a couple of years.
You’re out with your friends and your best friend’s guy kisses you or puts his hand up your skirt – Of course your girlfriend didn’t see this so you must scream at the top of your lungs (and in stacatto)”What-in-the-hell-are-you-doing-you-pervert!” Next, either stomp on his foot (really hard with your 5″ heel) or throw your drink over his head. I give you the option of foot stomping in case you’re drinking one of those $15 cocktails and he’s not even worth the ice that’s in the glass. Then get out of the way and let your girlfriend take over the demasculinizing that’s about to follow.
As a favor to one of your friends, you’ve gone to a holiday party with one of their co-workers and he talks non-stop about Star Trek – Since it’s obvious no Klingons are coming to your rescue and your friend is hanging out with his date and has left you to fend for yourself you don’t have many options. First of all, always make sure you’ve got enough money on you to take a cab home or have another friend available to come pick you up. Try bowing out gracefully with any one of 100 different pat excuses such as: headache, early morning meeting, tired due to a heavy workload from the week. If none of those work, you will be forced to bring out the big guns. There’s 2 that always work like a charm – starting your period and diarrhea. He isn’t going to question either one of those things because guys don’t want to even know about those things and women. Don’t try and use the upset stomach excuse because he’ll just suggest that you sit down and sip on a ginger ale. He’ll then be at your side asking you, incessantly, if you are feeling any better. Unless you can back up your queasiness with an actual vomiting on his shoes while he sits there with you…you’ll be stuck for the night. A couple of nights later invite your friend over for dinner and give him food poisoning for putting you through Star Trek hell.
Chocolate Covered Caramels with Sea Salt Recipe
Makes 50 – 75 pieces
- 2 Cups Light Corn Syrup
- 2 Cups Granulated Sugar
- 1/2 Cup Water
- 2 Cups Whipping Cream (NOT ultra pasteurized)
- 1/2 Cup Evaporated Milk
- 1/2 Cup Unsalted Butter
- 1 Tablespoon Vanilla Extract
- 1 11.5 Ounce Package Chocolate Chips (Bittersweet or 60% Cocoa)
- Coarse Sea Salt
Line a 9×13 pan with foil. Make sure that the foil is fitted well into the corners and sides. Liberally butter the foil, covering the bottom corners and sides.
In a small saucepan, over low heat, combine whipping cream, evaporated milk and vanilla. Whisk to thoroughly combine cream and milk. Mixture should become hot, but DO NOT BOIL. Occasionally whisk mixture as long as it is on the heat.
In a heavy 4 quart saucepan (over medium heat) combine corn syrup, water and sugar. Stir mixture with a wooden spoon until sugar is completely dissolved. Increase heat and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium low, cover and boil for 3 minutes.
Remove the cover and attach candy thermometer to the saucepan. Turn heat up to medium. Continue to gently boil sugar-syrup mixture until it reaches 250 degrees Farenheit. Do not stir the mixture while you are bringing it up to temperature. Add the butter and hot cream and milk mixture-slowly. Combining these will cause some serious bubbling (don’t panic-it’s fine). The temperature will also drop. Bring the temperature back up to 244 degrees Farenheit. After adding the butter and milk mixture, continuously stir the mixture, until it gets to 244 degrees, your caramels will be the soft and chewy kind.
Remove from heat and carefully pour the hot mixture into prepared pan. Do not scrape the saucepan. Gently rap the pan to remove any air bubbles.
Let pan sit to cool for at least 12 hours.
To cut, remove caramels from pan by lifting the foil. Place onto a cutting board. Use a large heavy knife to cut into desired piece size.
In a medium size glass bowl, melt the chocolate by placing it into the microwave and heating it on high for 30 seconds. Take it out and stir the chips. Put it back in for another 30 seconds. Again, stir the chips. Continue this process until chips are melted. It should take around 2 minutes total. Make sure you stir the chocolate thoroughly each time. It will probably all melt in the bowl while you’re stirring it on the 3rd of 4th time. You don’t want to overheat the chocolate or it will break and get all grainy.
Line a sheet pan with wax or parchment paper.
Drop 2 or 3 of the caramels into the melted chocolate at a time. Using a fork, flip the caramels over to coat all sides. Lift caramel from the chocolate and let the excess drip off. Carefully lay the chocolate onto the sheet pan.
Sprinkle a few grains of sea salt on top.
Let candy sit for at least 6 hours to harden.
Caramels will keep up to one month in a tightly sealed container.
* You may need to melt another bag of chocolate chips, depending on how thick you coat the caramels.
** I made this recipe and used a 9″ x 13″ pan. You can use an 8″ x 8″ pan if you want the caramels a lot thicker. Just remember, it’s difficult to eat a really thick caramel, so you’ll need to cut them into smaller pieces.