Monday, November 23, 2020

Cabernet-Salted Vanilla Caramels

These rich, buttery caramels are kissed with Cabernet infused sea salt for a grown up twist.

I have many fond memories associated with caramels. My grandfather was a die-hard Werther's addict, and many an afternoon he would come to pick me up from school and sneak me a piece before we would get home. As the years went on, these caramels became the everlasting memory I have of him. 

Now, I don't know what grandpa would have thought about these homemade caramels - they are soft, not crunchy, and are definitely a different flavour experience than those gold-wrapped morsels - but nevertheless I really enjoy this confection. I seem to always make some form of my wine-infused salt each year (Cabernet is what is usually consumed, hence what usually provides the dregs for me) and I wondered what effect it would have on a double-vanilla, buttery caramel base. I found a recipe for a small batch on Dessert for Two and tried it out once... only to lose all the caramels to company (and a few to a caramel apple pie) before I took a photo. So the next time I doubled the batch and swapped out the corn syrup for honey and added a vanilla bean in addition to the wine-y salt. Cause you know... excess.

I think I hit the jackpot! The floral honey and vanilla pod really added a complexity to the sweet caramel, while the salt added a tiny bit of bitter tannin as well. The batch also doubled beautifully, which is generally rare with candy. The only downside was wrapping every... little... piece. If you make a full pan, definitely enlist some free (or candy-paid) labour to help - children would easily volunteer I think! Keeping the candy cool while you wrap it really helps, I suggest a stone board or even a cookie sheet over ice packs to keep it firm. After they're wrapped, a cool place is best for storage (I used the fridge and it worked fine). At least, until you eat them!

Cabernet-Salted Vanilla Caramels
Adapted slightly from  Dessert for Two
Makes 32, can be doubled to make one 9" pan
1/2 cup heavy cream
2 tbsp unsalted butter
Seeds from 1 vanilla bean, plus the pod
1/4 tsp salt
3/4 cup sugar
2 tbsp dark amber honey (I used wildflower)
2 tbsp water
1/2 tbsp vanilla extract
Cabernet Salt (or coarse sea salt), to sprinkle
  1. Line a loaf pan with parchment paper, and spray with cooking spray (you can also use a silicone loaf pan - I love them for candy making).
  2. Heat the heavy cream, butter, vanilla seeds, vanilla pod and salt in a small pot until steaming but not boiling. Sit over very low heat (or turn off the burner and cover to keep hot) and set aside.
  3. In a large, deep pot, mix together the sugar, honey and water. 
  4. Bring to a boil, then cook, without stirring, until a thermometer reads 295F.
  5. Remove from heat.
  6. Remove the vanilla pod from the cream and slowly stream the dairy mixture into the sugar mixture while whisking constantly. 
  7. Place back over medium-high heat and cook, stirring occasionally, until it reaches 260F.
  8. Turn off the heat and whisk in the vanilla extract.
  9. Immediately pour the mixture into the loaf pan, being careful to get as much candy out without scraping the bottom of the pan.
  10. Let sit for 30 minutes, then sprinkle generously with the salt. Cover loosely (I used a clean tea towel) and let sit overnight at room temperature.
  11. Place in the fridge for 1-2 hours, then slice into squares with a sharp, greased knife and wrap in wax or parchment paper.

No comments :

Post a Comment

Thanks for the feedback!