Salty and Sweet (Chocolate-Covered Salted Caramels)Posted: November 18, 2012
My good friend Sarah once told me that one of her favorite confections were Rolos. I had to confess that they were on my list, as well. What’s not to love, really? Decadent chocolate and creamy caramel? Pair one little Rolo with a cup of hot coffee or espresso and you have the perfect sweet snack. But, as we all know, mass-produced candies such as these come with a laundry list of ingredients. Just take a look:
MILK CHOCOLATE ( SUGAR; NONFAT MILK; COCOA BUTTER; CHOCOLATE; LACTOSE (MILK); MILK FAT; SOY LECITHIN; PGPR, EMULSIFIER; VANILLIN, ARTIFICIAL FLAVOR) ; SUGAR; CORN SYRUP; HIGH FRUCTOSE CORN SYRUP; PARTIALLY HYDROGENATED VEGETABLE OIL (PALM KERNEL AND SOYBEAN OIL); MILK; SALT; SODIUM BICARBONATE; VANILLIN, ARTIFICIAL FLAVOR
That is what you’ll find if you turn a tube of Rolos over and look at the ingredients. It’s not great, but it could be worse.
For Sarah, I made something as close to a Rolo as I could, but I made a few changes. I used semi-sweet chocolate instead of milk chocolate, I added Maldon sea salt to the caramel and also sprinkled it on top. And clearly, I didn’t form them into the shape of a Rolo. But I’m sure she’ll forgive me. My list of ingredients was also considerably shorter.
Making candy is not easy. The best advice I can give is to invest in a reliable candy thermometer and to pay attention. Both will save you from hearing your spouse say, as they enter the kitchen, “What did you burn?” I’ve made caramels before, but it was so long ago that I forgot how volatile a saucepan of simmering sugar can be.
See, my mom called and I turned my back for just one second and BOOM – burned caramel. Ugh. Nothing can compare to the smell of burned sugar. Not to mention the wave of disappointment that follows knowing you babied the caramel up to the point at which you ignored it. Caramel does not like to be ignored. No sir.
I succeeded in my second attempt and hopefully, when Sarah unwraps and eats one of these chocolate covered caramels, she’ll be reminded of one of her favorite treats.
Individually wrapped in wax paper.
Chocolate Covered Salted Caramels
Adapted from David Lebovitz (he’s the best!)
What you’ll need before you start:
A 9-inch standard loaf pan
A candy or deep-fry thermometer
3/4 cup heavy cream
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
rounded 1/2 teaspoon + 1/4 teaspoon flaky sea salt (I use Maldon)
1/2 cup light corn syrup
1 cup granulated sugar
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, cubed, at room temperature
4 ounces semi-sweet chocolate, chopped
1/4 to 1 1/2 teaspoons canola oil
extra sea salt for sprinkling
Line a 9-inch loaf pan with a strip of parchment paper, making sure that a little paper hangs over each of the long sides. Spray paper with cooking spray.
Heat the cream with 2 tablespoons of the butter in a small saucepan with the vanilla and 1/2 teaspoon Maldon salt until the mixture begins to boil. Remove from the heat, cover, and keep warm while you cook the syrup.
In a medium, heavy duty saucepan fitted with a candy thermometer, heat the corn syrup with the sugar over medium heat, and cook, stirring gently, to make sure the sugar melts smoothly. Once the mixture is melted together and the sugar is evenly moistened, only stir as necessary to keep it from getting any hot spots.
Cook until the syrup reaches 310ºF.
To get an accurate reading while the syrup is cooking, David suggests tilting the pan to make sure the bulb of the thermometer is fully submerged in the syrup, tilting the pan as necessary.
Turn off the heat and stir in the warm cream mixture, until smooth. The mixture will bubble, so be careful not to let it bubble over. It will subside as you stir, not to worry.
Turn the heat back on to medium and cook the mixture to 260ºF.
Remove the pan from the heat, lift out the thermometer, and stir in the remaining cubes of butter, until it’s melted and the mixture is smooth.
Pour mixture into prepared loaf pan and wait at least 10 minutes, then sprinkle 1/4 teaspoon sea salt over the top. Set on a cooling rack and let cool completely. Once cool, lift out the parchment paper with the caramel, peel paper away, and slice the bar of caramel with a long, sharp knife into squares or rectangles.
These caramels are lovely just as they are, but below are instructions for dipping them in chocolate.
Place chopped chocolate in a microwave-safe bowl and place in microwave for 15-20 seconds at a time until melted, stirring between each interval. Add canola oil 1/8 teaspoon at a time until it reaches a smooth consistency for dipping.
Lay a piece of parchment paper on the counter or a baking sheet. Dip caramels, one at a time, in the chocolate. I use two forks, but it’s still a difficult and time-consuming thing to do. Place dipped caramels on parchment paper. Sprinkle with a small amount of Maldon salt. Set aside to dry.
You can also place the sheet of dipped caramels in the refrigerator until the chocolate is set.
These candies can be individually wrapped in wax paper and stored in an airtight container for up to a month. If you can make them last that long.