My little sister Colleen is getting married.
Since I’m making her wedding cake, I’ll save the sap for future posts, but I can assure you that the sap will come. Today is Col’s bridal shower and I’m excited to celebrate her with friends and family.
As a small favor to our guests, I cooked up a batch of homemade caramels. I love caramel, in all of it’s sweet, chewy glory. It’s a perfect fall flavor, and if you have a candy thermometer, they’re easy to make at home. For me, the hardest part about making caramels is cutting them into uniform shapes and sizes after they have cooled. Mine always turn out all wonky and diagonal, which can be lovely and homey in its own right, but for a bridal shower, I wanted caramels that looked perfect. Instead of pouring all of the caramel into a baking dish to harden, I poured it into square silicone molds. After they had firmed up, they popped right out of the mold, 90-degree angles and all!
3/4 cup heavy cream
12 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 walloping teaspoon vanilla bean paste or vanilla extract
3/4 teaspoon kosher salt (or more if you want salted caramels)
3 cups granulated sugar
1/2 cup light corn syrup
2/3 cup water
In a sauce pan, combine the cream, butter, vanilla, and salt. Bring to a boil over medium heat and allow to boil for one full minute, watching carefully that it does not boil over the top of the pan. Remove the pan from the heat.
Spray silicone molds with cooking spray.
In a large pot, combine the granulated sugar, corn syrup, and water. Stir gently until all of the sugar is moistened, but be careful no to splash the sides of the pan. If sugar granules get stuck to the side, they can cause your caramel syrup to crystallize. Cook over medium heat, occasionally brushing down the sides of the pan with water and a pastry brush to dissolve sugar granules, until the caramel is deep amber in color. If your pan colored and you cannot clearly make out the color of the caramel, dip a spoon in it and drizzle on a white plate. It should be brown, not golden. Don’t be afraid of cooking caramel – the darker the color, the more flavor it will have, so let it cook until you think you’ve gone too far.
Slowly stream the hot cream mixture to the caramel. Be careful – as soon as the cream hits it, the mixture will bubble up wildly. Stir to combine. Attach a candy thermometer to the side of the pan and cook, stirring occasionally, until the caramel reaches 250°F. Turn off the heat.
To mold caramels, pour the hot caramel into a glass measuring cup with a spout. Carefully pour into prepared silicone molds. Refrigerate for 2-3 hours, or until completely set before unmolding. Wrap caramels in parchment paper while they are still cold. Let caramels come to room temperature before serving.
Makes 48 1-1/2 in. x 1-1/2 in. caramels.