Saturday, December 17, 2011

Honey Caramels

Candy making scares the bejesus out of me.  And corn syrup is often shunned in my kitchen.  Taken together it appeared homemade caramels were not to be in my near future.  However, after hearing about success after success from several friends who took the dive into candy making, I thought it was time.  This recipe is a lot simpler than I anticipated and uses not one ounce of the dreaded corn syrup.  Someday, when I am much more ambitious, I want to try several batches of these side by side using different varieties of blossom, clover, buckwheat,  wildflower...

adapted from recipes at Brooklyn Farmhouse and Food on the food, with some extra help from Chez Pim

Yields approximately 60 one-inch caramels

The Ingredients:
1 1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup honey  (I used orange blossom)
1 cup heavy cream
4 Tbsp salted butter
Salt to taste


The Process:
Prepare an 8 x 8 pan by lining with aluminum foil or parchment paper and greasing generously with butter.  Do NOT use wax paper...the heat from the caramel will melt the wax paper to the candy.

Pour the sugar and honey into a large non-reactive pot set over medium-high heat.  Allow the sugar and honey to dissolve, stirring or shaking the pot just enough to melt all of the sugar granules.  Continue to cook without stirring until the liquid caramelizes into a deep rich brown color.

While the sugar and honey caramelizes, heat the cream to a simmer in a medium saucepan.

Once the sugar and honey reaches the color you want, cut in the butter, one piece at a time and stir gently until each piece has melted.  Carefully whisk in the warmed cream.  This stops the sugars from caramelizing.

At this point add additional salt to sample the molten liquid dip a spoon into the caramel and very quickly dip it into cold water to cool. 

Clip the candy thermometer to the edge of the pot.  Cook the mixture slowly until the temperature reaches 246 for soft caramels or 250 for firmer caramels. 

Pour the hot caramel into the prepared baking pan and allow to cool to room temperature.  Once cool, remove the caramel block from the pan, peel off the parchment or foil and cut into one inch squares.  Wrap in wax paper or cellophane. 

The Review:
I'm in love.  The honey flavor certainly shines through. Though from subsequent batches I noticed that the less time you allow the sugars to caramelize, the more prominent the honey flavor.  Sugars not richly caramelized will have the crisp, clean and almost astringent honey flavor.  Sugar allowed to darken more mellows out and blends into the deeper caramel flavor with just a hint of honey flavor.  It is incredibly fun to play around with.

And while the caramels may be quick to make and eating the a bit of heaven...wrapping them is like a little bit of purgatory.  I'd recommend pre-cutting all of your wrappers while waiting for the caramels to cool and enlisting the help of a friend.

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