Chocolate-Covered Sea Salt Caramels

February 27, 2011 § Leave a comment

Back by popular demand!  Miya’s recipe for the wedding favors, with help from Em the pastry chef, The Nibble, and Cooking for Engineers.  Tempering chocolate is finicky, but the caramel centers are surprisingly forgiving.  Underdo it and you have caramel sauce; overdo it and you can add a little more water and try again.

Chocolate-Covered Sea Salt Caramels

Ingredients

  • 1 cup heavy cream (not ultra-pasteurized)
  • 5 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into pieces
  • 2 teaspoons sea salt
  • 1-1/2 cups sugar
  • 1/4 cup light corn syrup
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 3/4 lb dark chocolate (approx)

Equipment

  • 8” square baking pan
  • Parchment paper
  • Candy thermometer
  • Paper candy cups

Yield: About 80 small caramels.


Preparation

Caramel centers:

  1. Line the bottom and sides of the pan with parchment paper and lightly oil the paper.
  2. Bring the cream, butter and sea salt to a boil in a small saucepan; remove from heat and set aside.
  3. Stir the sugar, corn syrup and water in a heavy saucepan, stirring until sugar is dissolved. Bring to a boil, not stirring but gently swirling pan occasionally; then cook without stirring until the mixture turns amber.
  4. Carefully stir in the cream mixture—the mixture will bubble up. Simmer, stirring frequently, for several minutes depending on temperature. The temperature should not go higher than 250°F.  The mixture will thicken and become somewhat more cohesive.
  5. Test by dropping a spoonful of caramel into a bowl of ice water. It will form a ball, which you can test with your fingers. Stop cooking immediately when the ball is very chewy, almost crunchy on the outside.
  6. Pour the mixture into the baking pan and cool 2 hours.
  7. Slice caramels with greased knife.


Temper chocolate
:

  1. Break chocolate into chip-sized pieces, ex. using a hammer and screwdriver as a chisel.
  2. Method 1: Put all the chips in a bowl but heat until only 60-70% of them are melted.  If you’re doing this on a double-boiler, then make sure to keep stirring once every minute or two, and then remove it from the heat once about 2/3 of the chips are melted.  If you’re doing it by microwave, then microwave on medium for 30 seconds at a time, stirring well between each session, until 2/3 of the chips are melted.  When your chocolate is appropriately melted, stir slowly, patiently, and continuously.  It should take 5-10 minutes for the rest of the chips to melt, and in the process you will have tempered your chocolate.
  3. Method 2: Set aside a few ounces of chocolate, then melt the rest to above 105 degrees Fahrenheit. When the chocolate is melted add in the chunk of unmelted chocolate to act as a “seed” for forming the right sugar crystal structure and stir until the mixture cools to 88-90.
  4. If the chocolate cools too much to use, it’s important to reheat it only briefly.  A microwave for no more than 5 seconds is best.  If after that it’s still too cool, stir vigorously until the whole thing is an even temperature, then microwave again for 5 seconds as needed.


Dipping centers:

  1. Pick up caramel center with chopsticks or a fork.  Submerge completely in chocolate.
  2. Lift out of pool of chocolate and tap the chopsticks against the side of the bowl or pot to shake off the excess.
  3. Drop onto ungreased parchment paper on a cookie sheet.  Drips will smooth into the top, or can be cut off around the edges.
  4. Sprinkle with sea salt.
  5. Cool and refrigerate.
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