I have been experimenting with a few holiday baking recipes this week, with less than pleasant results. A few recipes I'd been dying to try completely let me down, which I suppose is a relief - I can throw them out and not worry about making them in the future. So I decided I needed a trusty recipe to whip up, and I fell onto these caramels. I made several batches of these two years ago and burned out on the process, as they are very hands-on and time/labor intensive, in my opinion. Candy can be finicky. But if you commit to the recipe, you will have absolutely dreamy results. My coworkers have been sneaking into my office and eating these all week (which is wonderful...less for me to inhale!).
Fleur de Sel Caramels
I'm not sure where I originally found this recipe, but I believe it is adapted from epicurious.com
1 cup heavy cream
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
5 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into pieces
1/2 to 1 teaspoon fleur de sel (depending on your preference, and the quality of the salt), plus more for sprinkling on top
1 1/2 cups sugar
1/4 cup light corn syrup
1/4 cup water
Other necessities: parchment paper, 8x8 or 9x9 baking pan, candy thermometer*
Line bottom and sides of your baking pan with parchment paper. Lightly grease the parchment - I used a light vegetable oil spray.
Bring cream and butter to a boil in a small saucepan, and once butter is completely melted, turn heat off and stir in vanilla and fleur de sel. Set aside.
Pour sugar into a heavy saucepan, drizzle water and corn syrup over the top, and bring to a boil, swirling the pot (don't stir) until sugar is dissolved. Boil and continue to swirl pot until the mixture reaches 248°F. Turn off heat, and stir in cream mixture. Be prepared - the mixture will bubble up.
Bring the mixture back to a boil and simmer, stirring frequently (I just stand at the stove and stir) until the caramel reaches your desired consistency. The way to determine consistency is to pour a bit of the caramel into a bowl of cold water, and pick it up with a spoon or your fingers once cooled to check. Many websites say that the time spent will be 10-15 minutes, but I will be honest, it can be closer to 25-30 minutes for me. Just start checking early and check every 5 minutes or so after that.
Pour caramel into baking pan and cool 2+ hours (can be in the fridge to speed things along).
Cut into 1-inch pieces and sprinkle each piece with a pinch of fleur de sel, as desired. Wrap each piece in a 4-inch square of wax paper or parchment.
Try not to eat them all!
*Don't let the candy thermometer sway you - it's a necessity for candy making, and not scary at all. There are inexpensive ones at any supermarket or online.