Tuesday, July 26, 2011

The Caramels

For those few of you who have gotten to try these caramels, yes, this is THE caramel recipe. I had debated publishing this recipe, but then I decided that I'm never going to make money via my food creations, and really I want to be an author instead, thus exchanging one impossible dream for another. :)  So, without further ado...

Stacey's Caramel Recipe:
1.5c heavy cream, organic
2.25c whole milk, organic
3c sugar, organic
1 vanilla bean
1.5c glucose
3/4 stick (6 tbs) of butter, organic

Oiled parchment paper in 7x7" and 10x10" cake pans
Candy thermometer

First, a WARNING: Caramel takes forever to make.  So be ready to have at least 2 hours to do the first part.  Since I needed extra caramel, this is 1.5x my normal recipe where I would only fill the 10x10" cake pan.  I should also note that you need the really sturdy cake pans that won't warp.  If you use cake pans or jelly roll pans that warp, your caramel is going to be all different thicknesses.

Put the cream, milk and sugar into a 4qt stockpot.  Slice the vanilla bean lengthwise and scrape out the seeds.  Add the seeds and the pod to the pot.  Heat the ingredients over a medium flame, stirring constantly with a heat-resistant (to 500F) silicone spatula, until it starts to boil, around 200F and then add the glucose.  Glucose is annoying to measure - this Adjust-A-Cup is my favorite tool to do it with. 

Here's the first part where you'll be waiting quite a while.  This might take 15-30 minutes of stirring.  Once you get to 230F on your candy thermometer, add the butter and continue to stir constantly.  Then you are in for MORE waiting and stirring.

Once the thermometer reads 242F, the caramel is ready to pour into the prepared cake pans.  I've had lots of candy thermometers fail on me, so sometimes this is a crap shoot.  I think it's supposed to be somewhere between soft ball and firm ball stage if you want to check the old fashioned way.  I have this candy thermometer, and 242F seems to work for me.  Then I keep stirring for a minute or so, so that the bottom of the pot can cool a tiny bit.  If I don't do this, as I'm pouring, the thin layer of caramel at the bottom scalds as I'm trying to get all the caramel into the pans.  And if you're like me, and hate making caramel as much as you love eating it, you'll try to get as much caramel out of the pot as possible.  For this recipe, two-thirds goes into the 10x10" and one-third goes into the 7x7".

Let the caramel cool to room temperature (I like to leave mine in a cold oven, that way I don't have to worry about covering it and it steaming up, and I also don't have to worry about dust getting on it), and then you can cut it up however you like.  Sometimes I like to roll it around some homemade marshmallows.  This time, I spread some tempered chocolate on the bottom and cut them up for dipping.

This set, I put some toasted almonds on,

and then dipped them in chocolate.

And, then I made some of my classic caramels dipped in chocolate and sprinkled with salts - Hawaiian Black Alaea Salt and Fleur de Sel.

Now that I've given you my best recipe, someone figure out what the recipe is for becoming a famous author and trade me.  :)

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