Salted Chocolate Caramels are creamy, chewy, chocolatey and delicious confections perfect for holiday tins or any other special occasion. Or just for fun! Affiliated links have been used to link to items I am discussing. I received a copy of Holiday Cookies from Blogging for Books in exchange for an honest review.
Holiday cookies and confections might be the only thing I love as much as international one pot meals. There is something about the creativity of bite sized desserts designed to last in cookie tins for a few weeks that really engages my creativity–and it doesn’t hurt that I adore Christmas and pretty much all of the trappings that go with it. So when I saw Blogging for Books had Elisabet der Nederlanden’s Holiday Cookies: Showstopping Recipes to Sweeten the Season I immediately requested it to review.
Holiday Cookies does not disappoint. Much like these Salted Chocolate Caramels, its offerings are unique twists on holiday cookies. Its selections include classic cookies, international cookies, confections and candy, decorated cookies, cookies focused on warm spices, and cookies perfect for swapping.
In short, she covers just about any December cookie craving you might have. The only area I disagree with her on–and I realize I might be in the minority here–is that to me holiday cookies should be cookies that can live in tins. Drop cookies like oatmeal raisin and chocolate chip are not good holiday cookies because they go stale too quickly. Happily she only has a few of those anyway.
These Salted Chocolate Caramels were a huge hit in our house. I made them before the holiday baking started in earnest, and without anything to compete with them they disappeared very quickly. The texture is interesting, different from a regular caramel–and happily much easier for kids with braces to eat! The chocolate is of course solid at room temperature, but adds a melting quality to the chewy caramels when it is eaten. The bourbon adds warming notes, but its flavor is not super strong. Neither my husband nor my children like a strong alcohol flavor, and they all loved these Salted Chocolate Caramels. Do not skip a good, flaky sea salt, as it really makes the caramels pop.
If you are looking for more holiday goodies to bake or make–and I really hope you are–check out my holiday cookies and candies. As mentioned before, I really love holiday treat making and have amassed quite the collection of success stories over the years. So much so that inevitably every year someone is irritated about something I didn’t make–but I cannot help it, I always need to have room to keep experimenting with more! This year Alex has been grouchy I have not made the traditional butter crunch, although I have been experimenting with a toffee peanut butter bark. And I still need to make marshmallows. And hopefully biscotti. Ack!
Happy Holidays and happy treat making!
Closely adapted from Elisabet der Nederlanden. The recipe called for all semisweet chocolate, but given how sweet caramel is, I liked a mix of semi and bittersweet chocolates.
- 1 1/4 cups heavy cream
- 1 14 oz-can sweetened condensed milk
- 3/4 cup golden syrup (light corn syrup can be used)
- 3/4 cup sugar
- 1/4 cup water
- 6 T unsalted butter
- 1/2 cup bourbon
- 1 t sea salt
- 1 t vanilla bean paste
- 3 oz semisweet (about 60% cacao) chocolate, finely chopped
- 3 oz bittersweet (about 70% cacao) chocolate, finely chopped
- fleur de sel (or some other flaky sea salt) for sprinkling
Lightly spray a 9X13 baking pan with oil and then line it with parchment paper. Be sure to leave an overhang of parchment paper on the sides.
Combine the cream and sweetened condensed milk in a small saucepan. Heat until warm and then turn off the heat. Cover the pan.
In a 3-4 quart saucepan with a heavy bottom, add the golden syrup, sugar and water. Place over high heat. Gently and briefly stir together and then clip a candy thermometer to the side of the pan.
Let the mixture come to a boil and do not stir again. Let it boil, around 15 minutes, until the candy thermometer registers 250 F.
When the caramel reaches 250 F, reduce the heat to medium and add the unsalted butter, bourbon and sea salt.
Stir the caramel continuously for about 15 minutes, until the caramel reaches 235 F.
When the temperature reaches 235 F, remove the caramel from the heat and add the vanilla bean paste and finely chopped chocolate. Stir until the chocolate is melted and the mixture is homogenous.
Pour the chocolate caramel mixture into the prepared pan, using a silicone spatula to scrape all of the caramel out of the pan. Use an offset spatula to quickly smooth the top of the poured caramel. Rap the pan once or twice onto the counter to settle the caramel.
Sprinkle the top of the chocolate caramel evenly with fleur de sel.
Let cool and set for about 3 hours--the caramel should be completely completely cool before you slice it.
Use the parchment paper overhang to take the caramel "cake" out of the pan and transfer it to a cutting board. Slice into bite sized squares or rectangles and then use wax paper to wrap each individual caramel.
I stored mine at room temperature, but if your house is warm you may need to store in the refrigerator, in which case let stand at room temperature for 15 minutes before serving.
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