Saturday, December 22, 2012

Bourbon Sea Salt Caramels

The more I make caramels, the more I am convinced that these are one of life's culinary quick and easy to make, but packs a punch with a definite "wow" factor.  Did you catch that first part?  Yes, SO quick and easy to make.  They fall into the same category as creme brûlée--people will think you worked so much harder than you really did. 

There are however two lessons I learned along the way:

Lesson 1: Don't stir while the caramel is cooking. It seems scary and when I first started making caramels, I thought this was a suggestion.  I had a block of rock solid grainy mess within minutes of of stirring and never stirred again.  This recipe calls for cream while cooking so stirring might be okay, but the horror of that first time my candy turned instantly into a rock has place the fear of stirring in my heart forever. 

All of the ingredients in the pan will melt together and blend all on their own.  Trust me she said. 

See.  Not a spoon in site. 

Lesson 2: Learn your candy thermometer.  I used to follow caramel recipes exactly and always found my caramels to be too hard and chewy.  I started using the ice water method (drop some of the caramel in ice water to cool it down and then roll it between your fingers to gauge the firmness) with the thermometer and found that 225 degrees was the caramel sweet spot on my thermometer. Turns out altitude plays a role in caramel temps... makes sense since water boils at a lower temp at altitude.  Duh me.  I don't know the exact science, but I do find 225 to the be perfectly chewy caramel temp when I make these now.  At a mile above sea level.  

The bourbon adds a pretty subtle flavor to this. If you are not so much a bourbon fan, you can substitute a tsp of vanilla extract.  Take care when stirring the bourbon or extract in as it will spit and bubble as you stir. 

Dipping in chocolate is optional if you happen to be in the category of people that think chocolate is really a choice and not a necessity.  I dipped of course. 

These seriously take about 10 minutes of stove time, two hours to cool in the refrigerator and then just the time it takes to dip.  So easy it doesn't have to be a holiday or special occasion to whip them up. These could definitely be dangerous. 

Bourbon Sea Salt Caramels

1 2/3 sticks of butter
1/2 cup sugar
3/4 cup light brown sugar
3/4 cup light corn syrup
1/4 cup heavy cream
1 1/2 tsp sea salt
3 tsp bourbon
2 cups melted and tempered dark chocolate
sea salt for sprinkling

  1. In a heavy bottomed pot combine butter, sugars, cream and 1 1/2 tsp salt.  
  2. Bring mixture to a gentle boil over medium heat without stirring. Attach a candy thermometer to pan.
  3. Prepare an 8x8 inch pan by lining with parchment paper (wax paper will not work).  Set aside. 
  4. Continue cooking caramel mixture until caramel is 225-230 degrees and mixture is a warm golden color (about 7-10 minutes)
  5. Remove from heat and stir in the bourbon taking care as mixture will bubble and spit as you stir. Allow to cool for a couple of minutes, then pour into prepared 8×8 inch pan 
  6. Cool caramels to room temp and then refrigerate until set (about 1 hour). Cut into small squares.
  7. Dip squares into melted tempered chocolate.  Set on wax paper or parchment paper and sprinkle with sea salt.  Allow chocolate to harden before serving. 
  8. Store in refrigerator but allow to come to room temp before serving. 


Renee said...

I don't think of caramels as being an easy thing to make but you make it sound like they are. Maybe I'll be brave enough to try soon because I do love salt caramels!

Tiffany said...

Yummy! I have all of the ingredients and just enough time to make these for tomoroww night. My family will think I'm super! Thanks for sharing the tips!

Chris said...

I LOVE salt caramels, probably just a little too much. These are so tempting that I might just whip up a batch for Christmas!

Kendra said...

oooh!! What a merry christmas those caramels make! Merry Christmas to you and yours!

Kendra said...

PS, I lOVE bourbon!

Julie said...

Looks delicious as ALWAYS! Merry christmas to you and sweet Brooklyn!

Sarah said...

I love bourbon and I love salt caramels. Yummy!

Sophia said...

Wowsa! My kind of candy making!

Bronwyn said...

Making these tomorrow! You make them sound so easy so I'm going to try my hand at them. You have to live a little right? :)

Ellie said...

I made these without the chocolate topping and my friends raved and oohed and aahhhed like I was a pro. So easy!!

Melissa said...

These look really fantastic and actually do sound kind of easy!