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Dec 16, 2008 04:29 PM

help! making caramels

I just made Fleur de Sel caramels. First time doing any candy making. The recipe says to let them set up cooling in a pan for 2 hours, then to loosen from the pan, cut and wrap. Can I leave them in the pan overnight and then remove them, cut and wrap them tomorrow? Don't think I can make it through the rest of the steps tonight.

Here's the recipe if anyone is interested. I hope they turned out, but I'm not sure I was able to be accurate about the temperatures with the thermometer I had.

Caramel with Salted Butter

1 cup half-and-half
1 cup (2 sticks) salted butter
1/2 teaspoon fleur de sel (see note
) 1 pound superfine sugar (about 2 3/4 cups)
1/4 cup corn syrup

Bring the half-and-half, butter and fleur de sel to boil in a heavy,
3-quart saucepan. Set aside.

Stir together the sugar and corn syrup in a heavy saucepan. Bring
to a temperature of 293 degrees on a candy thermometer over medium
heat. As the sugar begins to melt, swirl the pan often until all
the sugar is melted. Remove the pan from the heat and add the
half-and-half mixture. Set the pan over medium heat and bring the
mixture to 248 degrees, stirring frequently. This will take 10 to
15 minutes. (The mixture will look like a caramel sauce.)

Pour into an 8-inch-square nonstick pan and allow to set 2 hours.

After the caramel has completely cooled, set the pan over very low
heat just enough to loosen the caramel, 30 seconds to 1 minute.
Invert the pan onto a nonstick surface. Cut the caramel into 36
pieces and wrap individually. Store in a dry place.
Servings: 36 caramels.

Each caramel: 115 calories; 90 milligrams sodium; 16 milligrams
cholesterol; 6 grams fat; 4 grams saturated fat; 16 grams carbohydrates;
0 protein; 0 fiber.

Note: Fleur de sel, a sea salt, is sold at specialty markets.
(You can probably use another sea salt if you'd like...)

From Alain Ducasse at the Essex House Restaurant in New York.

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    1. re: todao

      Whether I tackled them last night or today, these did not turn out at all. I have a *very* hard pan with congealed butter on top. I think my one wrong step was cutting short the melting of the sugar/corn syrup mix. It should have reached 293 degrees, but it was getting very very dark very fast and I was afraid of it burning, so I stopped probably around 275-280. For someone who knows, would this misstep have caused the rock-like result? If I had continued to 293, the caramels would have been almost chocolate brown in color. Should that be expected?

      Thanks! I'm so looking forward to getting this recipe right!

      1. re: tb1478

        I will try the recipe soon as I've been dying to eat them again! When I've eaten them at restaurants, they are a very, very deep brown in color.

        As a side note- kudos to any restaurant that serves them automatically with coffee after a fine dinner!

        1. re: tall sarah

          I tasted a little bit after pouring it out into the pan (before the rock-like phase set in). If you're looking for a really salted flavor, I might up the fleur de sel a tiny bit. I was also intending to sprinkle a little bit on top after most of the cooling had occurred. I like that little zing and crunch of salt on top.

          Come back and let me know if it works out for you!

    2. i don't know about what went wrong, i never use a thermometer for making caramel, i just use my eye. i think that most people make caramel too pale because they get nervous. one trick you can use is to have some white eggshells next to the pan you are using. you can dip the eggshells in the caramel to get a better idea of what color it is.

      i would have added the cold cream to the caramel also, i add butter in chunks, then i swirl the caramel slowly or whisk it to help it incorporate. i think the texture problem is because the butter didn't incorporate, not because you stopped the caramel too soon. the other possibility is that you somehow mismeasured.

      1. My mom, who is an excellent baker, has attempted Fleur de Sel caramels several times and only once ended up with edible candy.

        I primarily stick to cooking (as opposed to baking), and I've had great luck with caramels from these two recipes:

        1. My mom had trouble with Fleur de Sel caramels--of four or five attempts she netted one edible batch of candy.

          I've had good luck with this recipe:

          I use a teaspoon of Kosher salt to get the addictive flavor.

          1. Late response, but yes, it's OK to let them set overnight, or till you get around to them.

            I've made salted caramels many times, using the recipe from Epicurious--works every time. The proportions are a bit diff, but the technique is basically the same. The biggest diff is that Epicurious uses 1.5 c sugar to 1 c cream and 5 Tbsp butter. My guess is that 1 lb of sugar may make too much syrup for a pint of cream to smooth out.

            That said, here are my cooking suggestions:

            Melt the sugar and Karo (I also add a little water to make it less temperamental; makes no diff to the finished product, just takes a little longer to cook down) and bring to a boil. You can stir till it comes to a boil but after that, swirl the pan--using a spoon may introduce sugar crystals that would make the whole mixture crystallize. The mixture will reduce and turn golden. Keep boiling till it turns a nice deep golden brown--I don't use a thermometer for this step, I just eyeball it. The darker the syrup, the deeper the flavor.

            Remove the pan from heat and gradually stir in the scalded half and half (I use cream). Yes, you need to scald it--adding cold dairy to boiling sugar syrup will both cause even more spattering and may also cause curdling.

            Return the pan to medium-high heat and bring it to 248 - 252 degrees, stirring constantly. This is the soft-ball stage. You do have to use a thermometer here, or keep a glass of cold water around for the old-fashioned squish test.

            When the caramel hits the correct temp (this is what makes it chewy, which is why I'm wondering if it's the amount of sugar that made yours toffee-like), I remove it from the heat and let it sit for 15 min, stirring every now and again. This is because I pour it onto a silicone-covered cookie sheet rather than into a pan, and if you pour it immediately, it'll run all over the place. I tried a square pan the first time and was driven crazy--caramel wouldn't cut and wouldn't keep a shape anyway, so after that first time, I just poured it free-form and let it cool, usually overnight.

            And I do add an extra sprinkling of crunchy salt, about a teaspoon, on top, right after it's poured, when it's still sticky.

            As for the separated butter, did you use fresh or previously-frozen butter? I've had problems in candy making with frozen butter.

            1 Reply
            1. re: Erika L

              I use the epicurious fleur de sel recipe too, and I get raves each year. I up the salt a bit, add a vanilla bean, and use the local jersey cream when I can get it. I have successfully multiplied the recipe up to 6X the original amount; that fills a jelly roll pan and a bread pan comfortably. I find that if I cook to 152 that I have filling-pulling, tooth-cracking caramels, and that the ones pulled at just 148 may be a bit soft, but people seem to love the softness. I myself prefer the softer ones.

              And by the time I'm done, I'm always ready to let them cool overnight!