Salted butter caramels
I love the intangible feeling of Christmas – that big, warm, swelling feeling that rises up inside you. The closer we draw to Christmas (9 days and counting) the more palpable this feeling becomes. It’s in the shop windows, it’s in the Christmas trees – strung with lights that twinkle in darkened lounge windows and it’s in the Christmas carols that float on the sticky, humid summer air. I go out of my way to soak it all in. I have taken my place in the queue that forms in Franklin Rd; it inches slowly past houses curtained in Christmas lights, past front yards filled with gold and silver baubles, past Christmas stockings strung from porches and angels hanging from rooftops.
This year, more so than any other year, I have been inspired to bake; I think it is my way of spreading the Christmas cheer. So in the midst of all the Christmas madness I find calm in my kitchen. I retreat, apron around my waist, whisk at the ready and I bake. Although not baked per se, I took immense pleasure from making these salted butter caramels. Dipped in dark chocolate and topped with wee salt crystals they make the perfect gift, so if you find yourself with a few spare hours before Christmas I suggest you give these a go.
Makes around 80 caramels--
1 tsp vanilla extract
½ tsp salt, rounded
½ cup golden syrup
1 cup sugar
300g dark chocolate
Sea salt crystals
1. Line a square tin with tin foil and spray with cooking spray.
2. Heat the cream, half the butter, vanilla and the salt until the mixture begins to boil. Remove from the heat, cover and keep warm while you cook the syrup (I just left the saucepan on the cooktop).
3. In another saucepan place the golden syrup and sugar and cook slowly, stirring gently, until the sugar melts. Continue to cook this until the syrup reaches 155°C on a candy thermometer.
4. Turn off the heat and carefully add the cream mixture, stirring until smooth and well combined.
5. Turn the heat back on and cook the mixture to 127°C. At this point I would like to point out that my caramel mixture never reached this temperature and I must have cooked it for an hour or longer. In the end I keep an eye on the consistency of the boiling mixture and cooked it until it reached softball stage (fill a glass with cold water and when a drop of the caramel is added to the glass a wee soft ball should form). At this point remove the saucepan from the heat, add the remaining butter and stir until smooth.
6. Pour the mixture into the greased tin and leave to cool. Once cool cut into even pieces (I used a guide to make sure I achieved consistently sized caramels).
7. Melt the dark chocolate over a bain-marie until smooth. Dip chocolates one-by-one into the chocolate and sprinkle the top of each one with a crystal or two of salt.