Sunday, February 12, 2012

I love you...Chocolate Salted Caramels!

At this very moment, I am enjoying one of this most sweet and savory caramels.  And they are oh so melt in your mouth, creamy, salty, and honey-vanilla-licious.  These are so awesome that they will make for great gifts for neighbors or for whomever you feel like showering with yummy goodness.  If you find a fancy box and put a little bow around it, they might even think that you went to a fancy store and dropped some serious dough on these tasty treats. They are a little complicated, so get ready to put some LOVE into them.

Not perfect, but scrumptious!
The Honey-Vanilla Caramels are from,
the chocolate-salted part I made up myself :)
Mmmmmmmm, don't you want one!

Honey-Vanilla Caramels

2 cups sugar
3/4 cup light-colored corn syrup
1/4 cup honey
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 cups whipping cream
3 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into chunks
1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

1. Line the bottom and sides of 8x8x2-inch pan with parchment paper.
2. Combine sugar, corn syrup, honey, and salt in a heavy 3-quart saucepan. Cook, stirring, over medium heat, until mixture begins to simmer around the edges. Using a wet pastry brush, lightly brush the sugar from inside sides of saucepan. Cover; continue to cook about 3 minutes. (Meanwhile rinse spatula or spoon before using again.) Uncover; brush sides again. Attach candy thermometer to side of saucepan (do not let it touch bottom). Cook, uncovered, without stirring until mixture reaches 308 degrees F (8 minutes). Meanwhile, in small saucepan bring cream to a simmer; keep hot until needed.
3. As soon as the sugar mixture reaches 308 degrees F, remove from the heat. Immediately stir in butter. using long-handled spatula gradually stir hot cream into caramel. (Be careful; mixture will foam up and steam.) Return to heat. Adjust heat so mixture boils but not too rapidly. Stir to be sure it is well blended and smooth. Continue to cook 22 to 30 minutes, stirring occasionally, until temperature reaches 255 degrees F.
4. Remove saucepan from heat; stir in vanilla. Immediately pour caramel into prepared pan.  Otherwise, let set 2 to 3 hours or until caramel is completely cool and firm.
5. Using an oiled knife or scissors, cut each marshmallow in half across the middle. Arrange the marshmallows very tightly together, cut (sticky) side down, on top of the caramel. There should be no space visible between the marshmallows. Let set for another 2 to 3 hours, until the caramel is completely cool and firm.
6.  Lift pan liner to remove caramel to a cutting board. Using a long oiled knife, cut into pieces.
7. After you cut the caramels. (You can stop here if you choose and wrap caramels in waxed paper. Store up to 1 month in an airtight container at room temperature. Makes 48 to 60 caramels).  Melt some dark or milk chocolate.  My favorite is the dark/semi-sweet melting chips from Winco.  I like to melt chocolate in the microwave for 30 seconds, stir, and repeat until smooth and creamy. 
8. Take the cut caramel, you can do you to 3 at a time.  Use a fork or two, and dip the caramel into the chocolate.  Make sure the chocolate isn't too thick when you take the covered caramel out and place on wax paper.  I have several different types of racks, but I have found I prefer the smooth bottom you get from wax paper.  Sprinkle about 4 or 5 granules of kosher salt or any fancy salt you have, I use the red/pink Alaea Hawaiian salt.  Let cool and wha-la fancy chocolate covered salted caramels!

Enjoy, and save some for your sweetheart!

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