Often times when I return home from work on Wednesdays, I see the New York Times Dining Section on my side of the coffee table. Mr. Penpen thoughtfully saves articles and recipes he thinks I may be interested in. This week the Times was sitting there with an article titled, “How Caramel Developed A Taste for Salt,” including a recipe. The article had interesting information not only about caramels, but also about food trends. Apparently salted caramels are in phase five of their trendiness, which basically means they are now so ubiquitous that you can find them at places like Wal-Mart. Whether or not the idea is past its prime, I knew I had to make salted caramels – immediately. In fact, the very first phone call I made in 2009 was to Whole Foods to see if they were open for the necessary ingredients. (They were, which was great for me, but disappointing for their employees, I’m sure. I think there should be a few days a year when everything is closed.)
Once duly equipped with Fleur de Sel and vanilla beans, I got to work in the kitchen. My first batch didn’t turn out so well, which seems to be a recurring theme for me when making candy (I had a Peppermint Bark disaster last week - I won’t subject you to witness the carnage]). I let the sugar cook too long and it burned, just like the recipe warns you not to do.
My second attempt was much better: I left my burner on medium-low rather than medium and carefully monitored the mixture to make sure it didn’t burn. Also, once the cream was added into the mixture, my candy thermometer did not take five to seven minutes to register 252 degrees as instructed, so I pulled off the caramel after about three minutes. I’m very happy I did, because this batch turned out fabulous. I would give this recipe a 9 for D and a 4 for E, giving it a great EDR of 2.25.
Mr. Penpen liked the caramels so much that he couldn’t resist combining them with the homemade peppermint ice cream and gingerbread cake for dessert last night – true holiday (or post-holiday) decadence.
If you would like to read more about the provenance of salted caramel and get the recipe for Fleur De Sel Caramels, here are the links to the New York Times article and recipe. Enjoy!