Flo Braker | Sweet Miniatures | Chronicle, 2000 | Makes about 2 pounds 3 ounces
Golden Caramels — literally, that’s what these are in taste, color, and decoration. Decorate each caramel square with a bit of 24-karat gold. It’s simple to make richly flavored Dark Chocolate Caramels from this same recipe: just add 6 ounces bittersweet chocolate (such as Valrhona, Scharffen Berger, or Callebaut), coarsely chopped, to the sugar and corn syrup in step 3. Mmmmm, delicious!
Wrap caramels in clear cellophane or chocolate-coat them — just dip them, one by one, into tempered chocolate, shake off excess, and transfer to a sheet of aluminum foil until the chocolate sets up.—Flo Braker
1 vanilla bean
2 cups heavy cream
1 cup light corn syrup
2 cups granulated sugar
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened and cut into 4 pieces
1/2 teaspoon salt
24-karat gold leaf
1. Line bottom and sides of a 9-inch square pan with parchment paper; set aside.
2. Split the vanilla bean in half with a small paring knife, and scrape out the seeds; discard the pod. Add the seeds to the cream in a 1 1/2-quart saucepan; scald the cream and keep the saucepan near the stove so that if the cream cools too much when needed, you can reheat it briefly.
3. In a deep, heavy-bottomed 4-quart saucepan over low heat, blend the corn syrup and the sugar, stirring occasionally until the mixture becomes more fluid and most of the sugar appears dissolved.
4. Stop stirring, raise heat to medium-high, and gently boil until a candy thermometer registers 305¤F (150°C) (hard-crack stage), about 9 to 10 minutes.
5. Add the butter and salt to the sugar mixture, stirring constantly. Pour in the warm vanilla-flavored cream in a slow but steady stream without letting the boiling stop (be careful — mixture foams up and is steamy). Lower heat to medium and continue to boil gently until the thermometer registers about 248°F (120°C), stirring occasionally to prevent scorching, about 14 to 15 minutes.
6. Let the candy stand about 3 minutes to allow bubbling to subside, then pour into the prepared pan without scraping the saucepan; allow to cool at least 5 hours.
7. Invert onto a clean cutting board and cut into 1/2-inch-wide strips; then cut across the strips to form 1/2-inch squares. To apply a patch of gold leaf to each square, use a small artist’s brush. With the brush, lift a tiny patch about the size of an oatmeal flake of gold leaf and deposit it on top of the caramels for decoration.
8. Cut caramels tend to stick together and not hold their shape unless individually wrapped, so for easiest storage wrap the block of caramel in aluminum foil and cut off portions as needed. Store cut caramels in layers, separated by aluminum foil in an airtight metal or plastic container in a cool place for up to 3 weeks.
Recipe © 2000 Flo Braker. Photo © 2000 Michael Lamotte. All rights reserved.