Chocolate caramels

Last night I ventured into bold new territory: the art of candy making.  Chocolate caramels dusted with coarse sea salt are probably not the best breakfast, but this is from the girl who used to eat brown sugar for breakfast so really, what did you expect?

I adapted this recipe from Nestlé’s Chocolate 3 Books In 1 which is on Amazon.com. My last few attempts to make caramel failed miserably, so let’s see how this goes.

Good to know before you start: Caramel can be a dangerous item to make. You must heat sugar to a very high temperature and hot sugar is like napalm, it will burn you terribly.

Before you begin, fill the sink with cold water and ice cubes, and in the event of a burn, immediately submerge the injured arm into the cold water.

Minimize the risk of burns by wearing a heavy long-sleeved shirt, use long oven mitts, and do not put your face near the pot. Be aware that caramel will bubble up like lava once liquid is added, use a deep pot and a long-handled spoon to stir. Stir slowly, avoid splashing.

You need at least 45 minutes in the kitchen uninterrupted.  You cannot walk away from the stove, so pre-measure your ingredients and only start caramel when you have the time to do it, don’t try to rush it or you’ll be sorry.

The original recipe uses two packets (each 1 oz) of Nestlé Toll House CHOCO BAKE pre-melted unsweetened chocolate flavour. I have no idea what that is, and I substituted with cocoa powder and two extra tablespoons of butter.  If using the Choco Bake stuff you only need 1 C of butter.

Time required: 1 hr, plus over night to set

Yields: about 28 pieces

Cost per piece: $1.21

Total cost if you have none of the ingredients: $34.00

Kitchen implements I used:

  • candy thermometer
  • baking pan 8″ x 8″ and one larger one
  • tin foil
  • plastic wrap
  • mini muffin cups
  • ice cubes

Ingredients:

  • 18 TBSP unsalted butter (2 sticks + 2 TBSP), melted
  • 1 C granulated white sugar
  • 1 C brown sugar, packed
  • 1 C corn syrup
  • 414 mL sweetened condensed milk
  • 6 TBSP cocoa
  • 1 TSP pure vanilla extract
  • coarse sea salt

Instructions:

1. Line baking pan with foil and grease.

2. Measure out condensed milk and cocoa, set aside.

3. In a heavy-bottomed sauce pan, add: butter, white and brown sugars, and corn syrup. Cook over Medium heat, stirring constantly.

Mix it all up…

4. Once mixture is boiling, add cocoa powder and condensed milk. Reduce heat to Medium-Low and stir often (almost constantly).

The goal is to obtain a temperature of 118°C / 245°F which should take at least half an hour. Once it’s been bubbling that long, check with a candy thermometer, which is soft ball stage.

Stirring in the cocoa took awhile, it kept floating up and not blending. After 5 min or so it started to look like this:

5. As soon as you reach correct temperature, remove from heat and stir in vanilla.

6. Immediately pour into prepared pan, be very careful not to splash yourself.

(In the back is my candy thermometer sitting on the big spoon thing.)

Place dish into cold water bath, this will lower the temperature so the caramel does not keep cooking into the hard ball stage.

7. After the water is no longer cold, remove from water and cover with plastic wrap. Leave it on the counter overnight to set.

It’s easier to handle if you use plastic wrap instead of your bare hands. Cut with a sharp knife.

8. Set into muffin cups, and sprinkle with salt.

Verdict: These were good. Eventually I want to progress to making real caramel without corn syrup but this is a good start. The last few times I’ve attempted real caramel with just sugar and cream and vanilla it was a disaster but this turned out very well.

I tried one without salt, way too sweet though.

Playlist: Jem & the Holograms soundtrack