Cocktail or Christmas Candy Recipes: The Black and Tan-Beer Caramel

by Pamela

beer caramel, sea salt caramels, black and tan, christmas candy recipes, chewy caramel

Today being Friday, means it must be time (and not a moment too soon) for another one of my drink posts.  And today’s, I think, is kind of fun. This one is a bit of a food AND drink post.  Last year I incorporated booze into one of everyone’s favorite candies…the peanut butter cup.  If you didn’t see the bourbon peanut butter cup, check out the link.  They’re fanfriggintastic!  So this year I thought I would make beer caramel.  But a plain ol’ beer caramel sounded too blah.  So I began to think of some beer drinks like the michelada, beermosa or the black and tan and that’s when it struck me.  Black and Tan caramels!

Sea-Salt-Caramels

Yes, I have successfully incorporated that bar favorite, the black and tan, into my Christmas candy recipes repertoire.  You can thank me later.  You get a nice chewy caramel, as would be expected, but you get the traditional sea salt caramels on the bottom layer with another darker layer of beer caramel on top.  Oh, and then it’s topped off with a salty, crunchy “head” of crushed pretzels.

The recipe for the beer caramel is fairly similar to the recipe I already use for the sea salt caramels (with a tweak here and there).  And the “tan” layer on the bottom is the sea salt caramels recipe.

It takes a little more time to make the black and tan caramels because you need to let the bottom layer harden up for 4-6 hours before pouring the beer caramel layer over the top.  Plus, these caramels are a bit thicker than what I normally make.  One of the other differences you’ll notice is the consistency of the beer caramels is much softer than that of the sea salt caramels.  You definitely need to wrap these soon after cutting them, to help keep their form (otherwise plan on scraping up a lot of yummy caramel).  Also, store them in a cool place (it doesn’t have to be the refrigerator).  I plan to keep playing with these to firm up the caramel a bit more.

Even though the stout you use is very dark in color (almost black), your caramels won’t be that much darker than the sea salt caramels.  There is a definite color difference (as you can see), but it’s slight.  I’m going to keep working on that too, because the flavors of the stout taste really good with the butter, sugar and cream.  So I think I can up the strength of the beer and still have a delicious and chewy caramel.

As a bonus, I’ll include directions on how to make a black and tan drink (it is cocktail Friday after all).

Relationship Advice

I just want to wish everyone a Merry Christmas, Happy Chanuka, Kwanzaa and Festivus!  I’ll be posting between now and New Year’s but I wanted to take this opportunity to thank everyone for supporting me by coming to My Man’s Belly and leaving your comments, sending me e-mails and your Twitter and Facebook communications with me.  I truly appreciate it because I really enjoy doing this and especially love hearing about your results with my recipes.  Again…THANK YOU!!!!

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Recipe: Black and Tan

Ingredients

  • 1 Bottle of Bass Ale
  • 1 Bottle or Can of Guinness Stout

Instructions

  1. Slowly pour the Bass down the inside wall of a beer stein. (Pouring in this manner will reduce the chance of the beer forming a head – which you don’t want on this layer.)
  2. Gently pour the Guinness over the back of a spoon, and over the Bass.
  3. This will give you a tan layer, topped with a black layer (if you’ve poured the Guinness properly).
  4. Serve

Preparation time: 5 minute(s)

Number of servings (yield): 1

Culinary tradition: Irish

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Recipe: Black and Tan Caramels

Summary: Makes Approxiamately 50 Caramels

Ingredients

For “Tan” Caramels – Bottom Layer

  • 1 Cup Light Corn Syrup
  • 1 Cup Granulated Sugar
  • 1/4 Cup Water
  • 1 Cup Whipping Cream
  • 1/4 Cup Evaporated Milk
  • 1/4 Cup Salted Butter
  • 1Teaspoon Sea Salt
  • 1/2 Tablespoon Vanilla Extract

For “Black” Caramels-Top Layer

  • 1 Bottle (11.2 Ounces) Guinness Stout (measure out 1 cup and leave rest in bottle)
  • 1 Cup Corn Syrup
  • 1 Cup Granulated Sugar
  • 1 Cup (packed) Light Brown Sugar
  • 1 Cup Whipping Cream
  • 1/4 Cup Evaporated Milk
  • 1/4 Cup Salted Butter
  • 1/2 Tablespoon Vanilla
  • A Few Handfuls of Crushed Mini Pretzels (the amount is really up to you)

Instructions

For “Tan” Caramels – Bottom Layer

  1. Line an 8×8 pan with foil (or parchment paper). Make sure that either is fitted well into the corners and sides. Liberally butter the foil or parchment, covering the bottom corners and sides.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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 warm 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.
  5. 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.
  6. Let pan sit to cool for 4-6 hours.

For “Black” Caramels – Top Layer

  1. In a small saucepan, over medium heat, add 1 cup of the Guinness. Cook to reduce beer down to 2 teaspoons. (It will be thick and syrupy and should take about 15-20 minutes). Remove it from the heat and set aside.
  2. 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.
  3. In a heavy 4 quart saucepan (over medium heat) combine corn syrup, 1/2 cup of beer (this is the remaining beer + a bit of water to make up the difference) and sugars. Stir mixture with a wooden spoon until sugars are completely dissolved. Increase heat and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium low, cover and boil for 3 minutes.
  4. 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 warm butter 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 warm mixture and reduced stout, continuously stir the mixture, until it gets to 244 degrees, your caramels will be the soft and chewy kind.  Remove from heat and stir in the 2 teaspoons of reduced Guinness.
  5. Carefully pour the hot mixture over top of the cooled sea salt caramels already in the pan. Do not scrape the saucepan. Gently rap the pan to remove any air bubbles.
  6. After 1-2 minutes, liberally sprinkle the top with the crushed pretzels. Lightly press down on the pretzels to make sure they stick in the caramel.
  7. Let pan sit to cool for at least 12 hours.
  8. To cut, remove caramels from pan by lifting the foil or paper. Place onto a cutting board. Use a large heavy knife to cut into desired piece size.

Quick notes

The addition of the beer in these caramels makes the bubbling of the mixture be a much larger volume than traditional caramels.  Make sure you use the larger pots.  If it tends to be boiling over during the 3 minutes when you put the lid on the pot, turn the heat to low.  It needs the time to be off the sides of the pot so that the moisture can run down the sides and brush any wayward sugar crystals back into the mixture.

Before making the beer caramel, maker sure that the bottom layer of caramel is cool to the touch. Place your hand on the bottom of the pan to ensure that it is cool enough to touch all the way through.

I cut these into small pieces because of the thickness of the caramels as well as the difference in consistency of the caramels.

Variations

I used Guinness stout, but you could use your favorite stout to make these.

Preparation time: 45 minute(s)

Cooking time: 40 minute(s)

Diet type: Vegetarian

Number of servings (yield): 1

Culinary tradition: USA (General)

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3 comments

Diane {Created by Diane} December 27, 2011 at 10:21 pm

these look wonderful! Merry Christmas 🙂

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