Monday, November 19, 2012

11.19 - Sugar Coma

I'm not entirely sure a sugar coma is something to be grateful for...but I do enjoy the process of making stuff. With an added bonus of a couple of tastes and nibbles along the way, too.

Last month I took a workshop on making artisan caramels. During the workshop, we watched the teacher/baker how to make them, but didn't actually get any hands on experience aside from the final step of wrapping the caramels in parchment. So with the holidays right around the corner, I decided to put what I learned into actual use.
I'm not sure what makes them artisan because the ingredients are basic. Maybe it's because of the Maldon salt and ghirardelli chocolate. But sugar? butter? corn syrup? heavy cream? nothing 'artisan' about that.

The 1st thing to do is get the cream to a boil over medium high heat.

add the chocolate. Wait a minute before stirring...

then stir till completely melted. Voila! You have ganache! Remove from heat and set aside.

Bring the sugar, corn syrup, water and table salt to a boil. Stirring till sugar is dissolved.

When syrup turns clear, keep at a rolling boil at medium high heat, but stop stirring. You can gently swirl the pan around occasionally.

In about 10 minutes, the syrup will become a deep golden color. In this photo, it's not quite there yet. Almost though.

Then carefully pour in the chocolate ganache mixture. Watch out! It'll bubble and steam. Continue to boil over moderate heat. Now stir stir stir. Don't stop stirring. Unless you need a break to take a photo every now and then.

Ok, you can stop stirring to get a temperature reading every few minutes. But you need to keep stirring till the temperature reaches 255*F. A thermometer is critical in candy making. If it gets hotter than 255*, your caramel will be a little chewier and harder. If it's lower than 255*, then it won't be as chewy and could be a little floppy. But as long as you keep it within 5 degrees in either direction, you should still be ok. It takes a good 15 minutes or more to get the caramel up to 255*.

After it's reached temperature, add the butter and sea salt and mix till everything is combined. Or you could wait to sprinkle the sea salt on top of the caramel after you've poured it into the prepared pan.
Line an 8"x8" pan w/ 2 sheets of crisscrossed parchment. Carefully pour the caramel into pan. This is when you can sprinkle the sea salt on top if you didn't mix it with the butter in the previous step.

Let it cool completely before cutting, at least 2 hours.

Using a ruler and a sharp knife sprayed with vegetable or canola oil to prevent sticking, cut caramel into 1" squares.

Wrap each caramel in a 4"x5" piece of parchment.

You'll have 64 pieces of caramel and extra to nibble on from evening out the edges.

Put a few into cellophane bags tied closed with pretty ribbon and share with your closest friends.

Salted Chocolate Caramels

2 cups heavy cream
10 1/2 oz bittersweet chocolate (65-75%) chopped fine or in chip form
1 3/4 cups sugar
1/2 cup light corn syrup
1/4 cup water
1/4 teaspoon salt
3 tablespoons unsalted butter cut into tablespoon pieces
2 teaspoons flaky sea salt such as maldon

Vegetable oil for greasing
special equipment: parchment paper, candy thermometer, 8" square pan

1. line bottom and sides of an 8" pan with 2 sheets of crisscrossed parchment or foil sprayed with veg oil.

2. make ganache:
-bring cream just to a boil in a big saucepan over moderately high heat,
-reduce heat to low
-add chocolate
-let stand for 1 minute then stir till chocolate is completely melted
-remove from heat and set aside

3. bring sugar, corn syrup, water and salt to boil in a heavy pot over moderate heat, stirring until sugar is dissolved. Boil without stirring but gently swirling pan occasionally, until sugar is deep golden, about 10 minutes. Tilt pan and carefully pour in chocolate mixture (mixture will bubble and steam). Continue to boil over moderate heat, stirring frequently, until mixture registers 255*F on thermometer, about 15 minutes. add butter, stirring until completely melted, then immediately pour into lined baking pan. (Sprinkle evenly with sea salt optional, or just mix into caramel). Cool completely in pan on a rack, about 2 hours.

4. Invert caramel onto a clean cutting board sprayed with oil to prevent sticking. peel off parchment. turn caramel salt side up. cut into 1" squares. makes 64 pieces.

Tips for success:
-make sure you're using a decent thermometer and it's calibrated.
-oil the foil otherwise the caramels wont come off
-dont walk away from your caramels once they're cooking (they'll burn!).
-use a ruler to measure the caramels so they look nice and neat
-use a good pot (le cruset)
-remove from heat @ 252*
-can freeze
- air is the enemy
-use a wooden spoon to stir
-cut parchment into 5x4" to wrap caramels after cut

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