chocolate sea salt caramels

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I made a double batch these to fill a jar for Valentine’s day – leaving enough for a belated birthday present, an assortment for Mum to taste test … and a serving size appropriate for my sweet tooth. The smoothness of these caramels has redeemed the purchasing of the sugar thermometer already. I’m not sure why it feels like such an effort to attempt recipes that call for them – perhaps because I have always seen such a thing as a superfluous piece of cooking equipment (despite the fact I still have absolutely no idea about the different “ball” stages of sugar) – but in fact, my new gadget costed less than $20 and made the recipe as simple as cooking by numbers, literally.

These are utterly divine. I’m going to make more this week and send them out as treats to deserving loved ones. As frustrating as it is to realise that making your own treats is often nowhere near as economical as just purchasing a box of chocolates on an as needed basis – I really don’t think you can ask for much better than fresh, buttery caramel covered in high quality chocolate. Despite the fact I spend arguably too much time in the kitchen, I am all for efficiency, and these are 100% worth the effort.

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Adapted from Inspired Taste

Ingredients:

  • 120g butter
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • 3 tbsp water
  • 1/4 cup light corn syrup (this is actually available at most supermarkets in the baking section – even my local Pak n Save!)
  • 1 cup caster sugar
  • 250g dark chocolate (I used Whittaker’s 50%)
  • Coarse sea salt for sprinkling
  1. Line a loaf or slice tin (9 x 5inches if you have it – I used a larger tin and therefore had thinner caramels) with baking paper and grease with a little butter or cooking oil.
  2. Cut the butter into pieces and combine with the cream in a microwave safe bowl. Heat for a few minutes, checking and stirring regularly, until the butter has melted into the cream. Keep this on hand for later.
  3. In a small saucepan, combine the water, corn syrup and sugar. Bring to medium heat and stir until everything has dissolved. Try not to let the sugar splash up the sides of the saucepan.
  4. Continue boiling, uncovered and without stirring, until the temperature reaches 320F/160C and starts to turn a caramel colour. Immediately mix in 1/6th portions of the butter/cream mixture, stirring with the base of the thermometer after each addition. It will bubble up violently and steam and look like a great big mess. This is okay.
  5. Continue cooking over the medium heat until the sugar thermometer reaches 242F/116C for a soft, chewy caramel.
  6. Immediately after reachin this temperature, pour into the lined tin and leave to cool for ~3 hours (I put mine in the fridge after half an hour to speed things up). I would recommend refrigerating the caramel to make for easier chocolate covering.
  7. Prepare a baking sheet by covering it with more baking paper.
  8. Melt the chocolate in a microwave safe bowl on low in the microwave, stirring every 30 seconds until nearly completely melted. Remove and allow to melt completely (this is a very crude method of tempering chocolate so it won’t melt at room temperature). 
  9. Remove the caramel from the fridge, cut into squares, rectangles, any shape you like with a buttered knife.
  10. Using two forks, dunk the caramels in the melted chocolate, balancing them on one of the forks and giving it a few good bangs on the side of the melted chocolate bowl to shake off any excess chocolate. Push onto the baking tray with the other fork. This is definitely the messiest and least graceful part of the whole exercise.
  11. Sprinkle pinches of sea salt on top of the chocolate, and leave to set in the fridge. These are best stored in the fridge as they are very prone to melting, and should keep for around 2 weeks, if not longer.

One batch makes around 36 caramels depending on size.

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