Fleur de Sel Caramels

by Shawnda on January 3, 2008

in Candy,DIY

Fleur de Sel Caramel

Sometimes just rendering a dish inedible is taking the easy way out. If you’re heart was really in it, you’d ruin the the dish containing the fancy, hard-to-find European butter, the ridiculously expensive French salt, and the pan in which you made the dish.

Fleur de Sel Caramel

Round 1: [Click. Click-click-click. Click.] I was far too engrossed with photographing the boiling candy to realize that the caramel was going from a beautiful golden brown to charcoal in just a few clicks of the shutter. I knew pouring the cream mixture into the scorching syrup would do nothing but waste expensive ingredients, yet I did it any way. In the chaos, I managed to burn the same hand I’d cut earlier putting up the new backsplash. Gah. The only thing worst than the taste of burnt sugar is the smell that lingers in your house, no matter how many by-the-bulk vanilla tealights you burn.

Fleur de Sel CaramelFleur de Sel Caramel

Round 2: [Swirl. Sniff. Sip. Burp. Giggle. Sip.] If vanilla-scented tealights won’t rid your home of the acrid smell of burned-to-a-crisp sugar, you can successfully numb your sense of smell with a crisp, cold Australian Chardonnay. I put the camera away. I didn’t take my eyes off of the boiling candy. Hell, I even “swirled gently” and frequently. I stood at the stove, glass in hand, determined not to go to bed without my candy. And then it all imploded – the heat-safe top separated from the rest of the thermometer mid-air and the business end of the thermometer went crashing back into the pot, sending broken glass and mercury flooding into my pot of perfect caramel. I. Hate. Candy. Thermometers. Hate. Hate. Hate.

Round 2.5: [Cursing. Lots and lots of cursing.] There’s no candy thermometer to monitor a third batch of caramel. The only suitable pot in which to cook caramel is sealed tight (and full of broken glass, mercury, and otherwise perfectly good caramel). I’m out of light corn syrup and chilled wine. It’s after midnight. Round 3 would have to wait for daylight.

Fleur de Sel Caramel

Round 3: New candy thermometer + new pot + corn syrup = sugar rush.

Fleur de Sel Caramels

Chewy, salty caramel candies.

Ingredients

  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 5 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into pieces
  • 1/4 tsp vanilla
  • 1 teaspoon fleur de sel, plus more for sprinkling
  • 1 1/2 cups sugar
  • 1/4 cup light corn syrup
  • 1/4 cup water

Instructions

  1. Line bottom and sides of an 8-inch square baking pan with parchment paper, then lightly oil parchment.
  2. Bring cream, butter, vanilla, and fleur de sel to a boil in a small saucepan, then remove from heat and set aside.
  3. Boil sugar, corn syrup, and water in a 3- to 4-quart heavy saucepan, stirring until sugar is dissolved. Boil, without stirring but gently swirling pan, until mixture is a light golden caramel.
  4. Carefully stir in cream mixture (mixture will bubble up) and simmer, stirring frequently, until caramel registers 248F on thermometer, 10 to 15 minutes. Pour into baking pan and cool 1 hour. Sprinkle another pinch or two of fleur de sel over the top of the caramel for a nice salty crunch and let sit for 1 hour. Cut into 1-inch pieces (I rubbed butter onto a pizza cutter), then wrap each piece in a 4-inch square of wax paper, twisting 2 ends to close.

Notes

Yields: 64 candies

Adapted from Gourmet

Estimated time: 2 hours 30 minutes

{ 19 comments… read them below or add one }

1 peabody January 4, 2008 at 2:53 am

Oh yum! Caramels are my favorite.

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2 Katie January 4, 2008 at 6:22 am

They turned out fabulously! Great job this time. So sorry about your pan and ingredients. I think after something like that *I* would have given up. Great job sticking with it. It certainly seemed to pay off!

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3 Mrs. Bump January 4, 2008 at 8:47 am

I tried that exact same recipe twice, with similarly awful results! My main problem is that in the second step, after the sugar is dissolved, what temperature do you get to for a “light golden caramel”? I went all the way up past 310 and it still was only barely golden! The resulting product was a lovely toffee, but no way could it pass for caramel. The second bout I took it up to 275 looking for “light golden caramel,” but that batch was less like toffee, but more like taffy. I didn’t get to a round 3, but I’m just wondering if you have any guess what your candy thermometer might have read when you got to “light golden caramel”?

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4 Amanda January 4, 2008 at 8:48 am

I’ve been dying to make this recipe for awhile. My first round (which I didn’t use European butter) resulted in the candies being a tough like a Bit o Honey instead of soft and chewy. Did I mention that they also stuck to the wax paper I wrapped them in so in addition to being tough they had a nice waxy overtone. Alas, after your success I think I’ll be inspired to try again.

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5 Danielle January 4, 2008 at 9:30 am

You have my utmost respect and admiration. Your post is exactly the reason why I have an aversion to anything that requires a candy thermometer. Glad to see that you stuck with it, though. Your caramels look delish.

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6 foodiebride January 4, 2008 at 9:50 am

Thanks!

Mrs Bump – The sugar mixture was 355-360 when I added the cream.

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7 Kate January 4, 2008 at 12:22 pm

Bad: I hate when a recipe goes wrong once, let alone multiple times!
Good: These are one of my favorite candy treats and yours look incredible!

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8 Katie January 4, 2008 at 2:41 pm

You know, if you’re going to screw up – do it right! And you did a fine job, a very fine job. No point in going half way, now is there? Then, the third time’s the charm. Well done a strong marks for perserverance!

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9 Candace January 6, 2008 at 3:05 am

Hysterical! We’ve all been there! I almost set the kitchen on fire when I worked at the Aquarium Restaurant in Kemah. I totally forgot about my cooking sugar and there were FLAMES shooting out of it! Glad it finally worked out in the end for you. :)

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10 holler January 6, 2008 at 2:08 pm

oh, poor you! Well done for remounting the horse, so to speak! Lovely photos!

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11 Amanda January 7, 2008 at 7:48 pm

Yummm! Knowing how much effort you put into these makes me appreciate them even more.

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12 Sorina January 7, 2008 at 7:51 pm

Wow, those look delicious!
This is the first time on your blog. It’s great.

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13 tara January 9, 2008 at 8:12 am

wow, i give you SO much credit for following through with this recipe despite all the issues. but it looks like your perseverance really paid off because i just drooled all over my keyboard.

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14 Katia January 18, 2008 at 8:54 pm

Hi, I just found your blog and am enjoying reading it very much!
As for you caramels- they look lovely. I am so glad you continued until it worked out. I find that when I encounter problems while cooking, and I work throug it- those are the times I learn the most and feel most satisfied when I do finally get it done.

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15 MrsPresley January 19, 2008 at 12:50 pm

well, 3rd times’ the charm, right? :) congrats! these look marvelous!

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16 Food Rockz Man February 13, 2008 at 5:22 pm

This is the first time I’ve been to your site . . . stumbled here via TasteSpotting . . . and I love it. I had a very similarly disappointing and frustrating experience on Saturday attempting to make molded chocolates. Actually, my problems started when attempting to make the praline centers of molded chocolates . . . a reportedly delicious mixture of caramel and nuts. I first burnt a batch of caramel, then undercooked a batch that, when mixed with the nuts and cooled was grainy and nasty . . . and then finally got the praline right . . . only to move on to the chocolate molding part and screw that up. I gave up at that point and, like you, moved on to drinking. Unlike you, I have not yet returned to slay my dragon! Cheers to your perseverance!

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17 Stephanie Coleman October 26, 2011 at 10:44 am

I am going to be testing this recipe with hopes of including it in my Christmas bags this year (Yes, thinking ahead a bit).

Just a point of clarification before I try, you said in the comments that your sugar registered about 355 when golden brown before you added the cream – was that what temp it was when your efforts were successful? Or was that how hot it got the first time when it didn’t work out?

It seems like there is a great potential for error… I would like to not have to have so many trials! :)

Assuming you let it get up to 355… I guess the temp drops dramatically with the cream and then you let it rise back up to 248?? Sorry if this is confusing… ;)

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18 foodiebride October 26, 2011 at 11:02 am

Stephanie – I don’t actually use a candy thermometer when cooking the sugar portion anymore – and I don’t think you need to bother with it either. In sharing my failures from that night, I think I made it sound harder than it seems – too much info is actually not a good thing there :) Cook the sugar mixture until you get a nice amber/golden brown color. As long as you get that nice dark color, you’ll be fine. I actually made and blogged a prettier version here, if you want to see what they looked like.

The temperature *really* matters when cooking the mixture after you’ve added the cream – that’s when you want to cook it to 248 degrees – that will result in a candy that’s chewy but firm enough to hold its shape when cut. If you want harder caramels, you can always cook a couple degrees higher than 248 – but stick with 248 the first time and see how you like the results!

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19 Stephanie coleman October 29, 2011 at 3:55 pm

Thanks for the response! And, I wanted to let you know that I made them today and they are perfect! As for all the details, I actually like very detailed posts! I’m a bit ocd and like to be really clear when I’m trying something new… I hate kitchen fails! Anyways, thanks for the help! I’ve always loved your site :)

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