As soon as I poured this caramel hotness into its cooling vessel, I could only think one thing:
(Props to my fellow Arrested Development fans)
Not that I messed up the recipe or anything, I just knew I was on track to eat way too many of these caramels.
The first one that I bit into for the purposes of the picture above wasn’t quite the right bite shape. Definitely had to try it again.
Then I started wrapping them up, and it turned into one of those I Love Lucy candy situations where I just couldn’t wrap them fast enough, so I had to eat some of them to stay on track.
There isn’t a conveyor belt in my house or anything, but you know. I had to.
A lot of people think making caramel is difficult. I wouldn’t call it difficult, but it is an attention whore.
When you set out on the road to caramel, there is no multitasking allowed. You can’t talk on the phone or catch up on Facebook drama.
Your entire world has to be centered on that pot of boiling sugar because the moment you go to do something else, it’ll turn on you.
And burnt caramel is a very sad situation.
So, assuming you can shut the world out for 30 minutes and read a candy thermometer, you can do it! I swear!
The recipe is based on one from Martha Stewart, who proclaims that bringing this caramel to 248 degrees (and not one degree more!) yields the perfect chewy-ooey-gooey caramel candy. She’s totally right.
I upped the vanilla content in these candies because everything needs more vanilla. Then I topped the caramel with cacao nibs and chunky sea salt. The cacao nibs add a slightly bitter, chocolatey crunch, and we all probably know by now that salted caramel is where it’s at.
This makes a pretty giant batch of caramels, and everyone likes being given a little something sweet around the holidays. So make some caramels, give them to loved ones, throw them from your rooftop, spread some holiday cheer!
Disclaimer: Throwing caramel candies from your roof is actually a really bad idea. Nobody wants a caramel injury. Just hand them to people. Maybe in a cute bag wrapped with a bow.
Cacao Nib Caramels
Adapted from Martha Stewart Living, December 2012
Be sure to use a much larger saucepan than you think you need for this recipe - heavy cream makes the caramel bubble up like crazy while boiling. Also make sure you have all your finishing ingredients (both salts, vanilla, cacao nibs) ready to go before the caramel comes to temperature. You have to work quickly at that point.
- Vegetable oil spray, for baking sheet
- 2 cups heavy cream
- 2 1/4 cups granulated sugar
- 6 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into pieces
- 1 1/4 cups light corn syrup
- 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- 2-3 tablespoons cacao nibs, for topping
- flaky sea salt, for topping
- Lightly spray bottom and sides of a 9x13 rimmed baking sheet (or glass dish) with vegetable oil. Line with parchment paper, leaving a 2 inch overhang on the long sides. Lightly spray the parchment with oil.
- Bring cream, sugar, butter and corn syrup to a boil in a large saucepan over high heat, stirring until the sugar dissolves. Reduce heat to medium-high. Cook, stirring occasionally, until caramel reaches 248 degrees on a candy thermometer, about 15 minutes.
- Immediately remove caramel from the heat and stir in the kosher salt and vanilla. Pour caramel into the prepared dish and sprinkle evenly with desired amount of cacao nibs and sea salt. Let the caramel stand, uncovered, at room temperature for at least 8 hours and up to 1 day.
- Lifting by parchment overhang, transfer caramel to a large cutting board. Cut into pieces (mine were ~1"x1 1/4"). Wrap each piece in wax paper, parchment, or cellophane.