This year’s Christmas festivities passed with much merriment and deliciousness. And as soon as Christmas started coming to a close, an odd combination of sore throat and immense weariness began taking me over. I have no one to blame but myself–it’s been a busy fall and between work, school applications, and everything else, I have worked myself hard. So, really, it is no surprise that as soon as I have a few days ahead of me to do nothing but vegetate, my body shuts down. Sigh. Perhaps this could have been avoided if I had had more bourbon and eggnog this week. But it’s too late to change things now–I’ll have to test my hypothesis next year. I apologize to next year’s Christmas Eve guests now.
So, while I don’t have the energy to tell you much about these sea salt caramels, I will tell you this: I believe these were meant to be soft caramels, but they were more akin to Werther’s than anything else after I made them. Either way, they are a quick, easy-to-make treat, ideal as a small hostess gift for any parties you may still have on your holiday schedule!
Hard Sea Salt Caramels
Makes about 50 small candies
3/4 cup heavy cream
3/4 teaspoon vanilla bean paste (or vanilla extract)
heaping 1/2 teaspoon Maldon salt
1/2 cup light corn syrup
1 cup sugar
4 tablespoon unsalted butter, at room temperature, cubed
1/2 teaspoon Maldon salt, for garnish
Line a 9 by 9 inch pan with aluminum foil, and butter the foil generously.
Heat the heavy cream, vanilla, salt, and 2 tablespoons of the butter in a small saucepan until it begins to boil. Cover, remove from the heat, and keep warm while you prepare the sugar.
In a medium heavy-duty saucepan, fitted with a candy thermometer, heat the corn syrup and sugar. Stir occasionally, until the sugar and corn syrup are well combined, then stir only if hot spots appear the be developing. Do this until the mixture reaches 310 degrees F.
Turn off the heat, and mix in the heavy cream mixture until it is well incorporated. Turn the heat back on, and cook the mixture to 260 degrees F. Remove the pan from the heat, add the remaining two tablespoons of butter, and mix until combined.
Pour the mixture into the prepared pan. Let it cool for 10 minutes, then sprinkle with the Maldon salt. Once the caramel cools completely, cut it into small squares, and wrap in pieces of wax paper. These can be stored in an airtight container for up to a month.