Since this is the first holiday season in a while that I’m not traveling, I decided this would be the year I learned how to make candy. Candy-making has always seemed a bit daunting to me (fancy thermometers, parchment paper, and the general threat of a nasty sugar burn), so I decided to start with a basic caramel recipe from Saveur. Since a few of the comments questioned the high temperature, I looked around at other recipes and stumbled across some great tips to consider before getting started.
Key bullet points:
- Once the sugar and water start boiling, do not touch! You want to avoid crystallization on the sides of the pot at all costs (they create a grainy texture in the candy). If you accidentally slosh any liquid on the sides, just run a damp pastry brush around the edges of the pot to clean it off.
- Believe it or not, humidity can impede the caramel hardening process. Try to pick a dry day to make this if possible. (Weird, I know.)
- Temperature – honestly, I followed the Saveur recipe to a T and didn’t run into any problems with the high temperature. Don’t worry if it seems like it’s taking forever to come up to temperature. Mine plateaued around 200º for a while before it started moving up again.
For this recipe you will need:
1¾ cups heavy cream
¾ cup glucose or light corn syrup
1 tsp. fine sea salt
1 vanilla bean, halved lengthwise, seeds scraped and reserved (you can substitute a teaspoon of extract if you don’t have a vanilla bean)
1¾ cups sugar
Fleur de sel, to garnish
Combine and heat cream, glucose, salt, and vanilla seeds in a 4-qt. saucepan over medium heat until mixture begins to simmer; remove from heat and let sit for 10 minutes. Line bottom and sides of an 8″ square baking pan with parchment paper; set aside.
Stir together sugar and ¾ cups water in a 2-qt. saucepan. Heat over medium-high heat, without stirring, until the mixture turns a medium-dark amber color and a candy thermometer reads 370º. Remove pan from heat; slowly pour cream mixture into caramel. Return saucepan to medium heat; stir until caramel dissolves. Transfer mixture to a 4-qt. saucepan and cook, without stirring, until candy thermometer reads 246º. Pour mixture into prepared pan; smooth top. Let cool completely; then cut into 1″ squares. Sprinkle with fleur de sel and wrap individually in wax paper squares. Store at room temperature.
original recipe via Saveur