The first theme for Cheese Club this semester was cheese and chocolate pairings. I saw this as the perfect opportunity to share some of my kitchen creations with a big group of people. They were a huge hit and paired wonderfully with the cheeses. The consensus was that these paired best with the Spanish Mahon compared to the other two cheeses we had.
Caramels are surprisingly easy to make and if you mess up it is not a big deal, just start over. The ingredients are inexpensive and the process isn't complicated or overly time consuming. The most important thing is to not cook them beyond 248F. I would suggest removing the caramel for the heat right before it hits the 248F mark, to be safe.
An alternative method is the cold water test. Prepare a small glass of ice water and as the caramel is about ready, drip a small amount into the cold water. You do not need to let it sit in the cold water for long, reach in and give it a taste for texture.
The caramels are wonderful without chocolate too. I dipped them into chocolate for Cheese Club, but it is tedious work. I got bored and started to dip just the tops or half of the caramels. You could always drizzle chocolate over them too. Have fun with it and get creative!
1 cup heavy cream
5 tablespoons unsalted butter
3/4 teaspoon french grey sea salt or fleur de sel
1 1/2 cups granulated white sugar
1/4 cup light corn syrup
1/4 cup water
1 bag chocolate morsels (optional)
- Spray a 8-inch baking pan with cooking spray and then line with parchment paper.
- Combine the cream, butter and salt in a small saucepan over medium heat. Bring the mixture to a low boil and then remove from the heat, setting aside.
- In a 3-quart saucepan, boil the sugar, corn syrup and water, over medium heat, stirring until the sugar is dissolved. Continue to boil, without stirring but gently swirling the pan, until the mixture is a light golden to amber color.
- Attach a candy thermometer to the pan. Carefully add the cream mixture (it will bubble up) and simmer, over medium-low heat, until the temperature just reaches 248F. DO NOT let it go beyond that or you will get very hard caramels. It will take 10-15 minutes. Pour into prepared pan and cool for 2 hours. If you want to add salt to the tops, wait for them to cool slightly or the salt will dissolve.
- Once cooled, cut them into the desired size, wrapping them in parchment or wax paper. If keeping them for yourself, its not worth the fuss, just store them in an airtight container.
Covering them in chocolate:
- Using the double boiler method, place a glass or metal bowl with your chocolate, over a pan 1/4 to 1/2 full with simmering water. Allow the chocolate to melt, stirring occasionally. I chose this over the microwave because I can keep the chocolate warm. While the chocolate melts, prepare a baking sheet with parchment paper for the finished chocolate covered caramels.
- Once the chocolate is melted, dip them one by one into the chocolate, using a fork. Make sure to tap the fork on the edge of the bowl to remove excess chocolate. If you want to add salt to the tops, let them cool slightly first. Let the chocolate set up completely and then store in an airtight container.