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Dec 24, 2013 06:41 AM

salted caramel is too hard!

I followed this recipe to a tee

but now my caarmels are rock hard and I can't cut them!! Any advice??

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  1. Cover them in melted chocolate and chopped nuts and smash with a mallet

    3 Replies
    1. re: Siegal

      or smash and incorporate into brownies, blondies or cookies.

      1. re: Siegal

        Hope the new batch has/is going well. You might be able to salvage the old batch by gently microwaving, just enough to get a knife through to cut. I had a rock hard batch like this which I went ahead and wrapped individual pieces. Eaters were instructed to give each piece about 5 seconds in the microwave before unwrapping to make edible.

      2. He is cooking the caramel to 260. My recipes call for 240. So going for 260 he is going for maximum flavor. Given your ingredients, altitude, thermometer, etc you can't reach for the stars at 260. You need to try cooking to a lower finish temp.

        8 Replies
        1. re: csacks

          thank you csacks. i'm starting over with a new batch.

          1. re: csacks

            I've had good luck remelting hard caramel, adding more dairy, and going from there.

            1. re: Green_Shartreuse

              Me, too, but I just add a little water and re-cook to a lower temperature.

              If they were cooked to 260F and were rock hard, I'd go for somewhere around 250-255F for a softer consistency. Caramel recipes vary, but my go-to is perfect around 252-3f.

              1. re: babette feasts

                my second batch set up like fudge. I give up. High Altitude -2 Trolley-0.

                1. re: trolley

                  Roll the pieces in chopped nuts and keep in the fridge

                  1. re: trolley

                    Like fudge? Did they crystallize?

                    What is the boiling point where you are? The rule for candy is to cook it to the same number of degrees above boiling point. If at sea level, the caramels are cooked to 260F, or 48 degrees above boiling point, then cook them to 48 degrees above whatever boiling point is where you are. If you are in Denver, the boiling point of water should be 202F, so you'd cook the candy to 250. Hope that helps.

                    1. re: babette feasts

                      yes, i guess i pulled them off too quickly. the 3 rd batch burnt at 300F so I have no idea. I gave up. My towel has been thrown.

                2. re: Green_Shartreuse

                  Thanks for that tip, I've just had to do that and it's worked perfectly. I didn't let it boil as long this time.

              2. Can't tell you what went wrong with your caramels (though you cook them to higher temps than mine at both stages, and I wonder if that might be part of it). But I have a recipe that always works for me, and you might want to try it next time. I found it in a post on Chowhound several years ago by tb1478. People rave about these caramels, they start asking when I'm going to make them again by the first of December, they say I should turn pro. I have never had it fail me--the texture is creamy and firm and not too hard, and the flavor is out of this world. It's similar to yours, but the proportions are different.

                Fleur de Sel Caramels

                (from Alain Ducasse at the Essex House Restaurant in New York)

                1 cup half-and-half
                1 cup (2 sticks) salted butter
                3/4 teaspoon fleur de sel (2-1/4 tsp. if you use unsalted butter)
                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 (watch it as it comes to a boil—it will boil over fast). Set aside.

                Stir together the sugar and corn syrup in a heavy saucepan. Bring to a temperature of 293 degrees F. on a candy thermometer over medium heat. As the sugar begins to melt, swirl the pan often until all the sugar is melted. Don't stir at this stage or you will risk introducing crystals and ruining the smooth texture.

                Remove the pan from the heat and add the half-and-half mixture (it will boil up quite a bit, so make sure you're using a large enough pan). Set the pan over medium heat and bring the mixture to 248 degrees F., stirring frequently. (The mixture will look like a caramel sauce.).

                Pour into an 8-inch-square pan (a silicon pan makes the caramels easy to remove when cooled) and allow to set overnight.

                After the caramel has completely cooled, turn it out on a cutting board. Cut the caramel into 36 pieces and wrap individually. Store in a dry place.

                Servings: 36 caramels.

                7 Replies
                1. re: MsMaryMc

                  thanks Ms Mary Mc. i'll try this recipe another time. looks good. I did my 3rd and last batch and again it's setting up like a rock. I GIVE UP! Moving to cookies. I do blame it on the high altitude as I've never had a problem at sea level. Curses!! (fist in the air at the rockies)

                  1. re: MsMaryMc

                    does anyone know how to make this into sauce??

                    1. re: trolley

                      If you want to make the Ducasse recipe into sauce, stop cooking after you combine all the ingredients. You may want to either serve it warm or add another splash of half-and half, either way you can adjust the viscosity to your liking.

                      If you want to make your unhappy caramels into sauce, just melt them down with some cream or water, adding liquid to your desired consistency.

                      You can drip a bit onto a cold plate to see how thick it will be once cooled.

                      1. re: babette feasts

                        wanted to ask both babettes feasts and MsMaryMc (or anyone else) about crystallization of caramels.

                        So one batch I ditched bc it was burnt. The other two were cooked down to sauce. one of them cooked down perfectly. The other that crystallized cooked down to a sauce but remains crystallized. Any idea on how and why this happens??

                        1. re: trolley

                          I've only had that happen, a little bit, one time. I don't know for sure what causes it, but I've always seen warnings in recipes where you caramelize sugar that you shouldn't stir it during that part of the process. I try to restrain myself, but I usually can't resist pushing the unmelted sugar around a little bit when it's getting about halfway done. I also wash down the sides of the pan with a silicone pastry brush dipped in water at this stage. There are usually some sugar crystals clinging to the sides, and the recipes always say you don't want to introduce crystals into the sugar once it's melted. I can't swear that this makes a difference, but I haven't had grainy caramels in a long time.

                          1. re: trolley

                            Glad you managed to salvage at least some of it!

                            At what point did the crystallized batch go grainy? Any chance you forgot the corn/rice/golden syrup in that batch?

                            When you're making fudge (which I never do, but this is my understanding) you agitate the mix at a certain temperature to induce crystallization. So maybe the mixture had cooled too much before you stirred in the butter? Was your butter or your kitchen super cold?

                            When caramels crystallize over time, it is due to either excessive humidity or not enough "doctor", which is your invert or liquid sugar. I've never had them crystallize the same day, and I'm surprised the graininess didn't melt out when you made sauce. Very strange! I guess you could add pecans and call it Southern Praline Caramel Sauce ;)

                            1. re: babette feasts

                              i don't know what happened. the only thing i did differently was with the lower temp. i do have experience making caramel since I make it at least once a month for flan. the taste is great but if I keep it around, i may eat the whole gritty stuff by my lonesome! can't do that! thanks for the responses!

                    2. How is this a problem?

                      I love caramel candy, esp. Werther's Originals.

                      4 Replies
                        1. re: trolley

                          Get plastic bag. Take hammer. Make knives and other sharp instruments obsolete.

                          1. re: ipsedixit

                            well, then you get shards. then at that point you'll might as make the caramel into powder.