Monday, April 18, 2011

It sounded easy.... maybe too easy...

This weekend I made my first attempt at salted caramels. Though the end product tasted great, I wasn't able to easily remove them from the pan, nor easily package them, so overall it was a bust. But I'm trying again...

I used this recipe from the food52 blog. My first mistake was doubling the recipe. I had plans to bring caramels with me to several friend visits on Sunday, so I thought a double batch might be needed. Three cups of sugar takes AGES to melt on the stove- I even added a bit more water thinking it would help melt the sugars (ie, mistake #2). So, 45 minutes of stirring later I gave up and just turned up the heat to let the sugars carmelize and to hell with it if they're a bit grainy! It took way less than the recommended 15 minutes for the mixture to get amber in color, but I took it off the stove just before burning, mixed in the cream, butter, salt (a bit too much salt probably - mistake #3), and vanilla (bit too much there too), then poured the mix into a foil lined 9x13 pan. I sprinkled the top of the caramel with more sea salt and let the whole thing cool for about an hour and a half, during which time I cut a ton of small squares of waxed paper to wrap them in.

I removed the caramel from the pan by lifting the foil - at which time I discovered that my foil lining had a small hole through which much of the caramel had run. Oops! (Mistake #4) I put the whole thing down on a paper towel on my counter & started slicing the block into squares with my big chef's knife. It looked promising - I was able to easily cut through the bar. Then I picked up a square - and it was totally stuck to the foil. Argh! I checked a few more, and the same thing - this was a disaster. I couldn't pull a clean square away from the foil. Then I feared getting bits of foil into the caramels that I could somewhat pull away. Definitely wasn't going to serve these to my friends! I managed to pull a few away, and they were just way too soft. Delicious, but soft. So much for a "firm caramel".

While this batch was a disaster, I'm definitely going to try again. This time without the double batch, and with some of that "non-stick" foil, and butter the foil... Oh, and carefully measure the salt and not add the extra water... Maybe chill the caramels before cutting... There were many mistakes in this batch, but it's all just a learning experience, right?

Fingers crossed, dear readers, that the next batch is more of a success!

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