Golden caramels—literally, that’s what these are in taste, color, and decoration. Decorate each caramel square with 24-karat gold.–Flo Braker
Makes about 2 pounds
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Line the bottom and sides of a 9-inch square pan with parchment paper.
Using the tip of a small paring knife, split the vanilla bean in half and scrape the seeds cream into a 1 1/2-quart saucepan and add the cream. Reserve the vanilla pod for another use or discard. Place the pan over medium heat just until a skin forms over the cream and bubbles begin to form at its edges, 1 to 2 minutes. Remove from the heat but keep the saucepan near the stove.
In a deep, heavy-bottomed, 4-quart saucepan over low heat, blend the corn syrup and the sugar, stirring occasionally, until the mixture becomes rather fluid-like and most of the sugar appears to be dissolved, about 6 minutes. Stop stirring, increase the heat to medium-high, and gently boil until a candy thermometer registers 305°F (150°C), which is the hard-crack stage, 9 to 10 minutes.
Add the butter and salt to the sugar mixture, stirring constantly. Pour in the warm vanilla-infused cream in a slow, steady stream without letting the boiling stop (be careful, as the mixture will foam up and is hot and steamy). Reduce the heat to medium and continue to boil gently until the thermometer registers about 248°F (120°C), stirring occasionally to prevent scorching, 14 to 17 minutes.
Let the candy stand for about 3 minutes to allow the bubbling to subside, then pour it into the prepared pan without scraping the saucepan. Let cool at room temperature for at least 5 hours.
Invert the caramels onto a cutting board. The cut caramels tend to stick together and not hold their shape unless individually wrapped, so for easiest storage, wrap the entire block of caramel in parchment paper and then aluminum foil and cut off portions as needed. To make individual caramels, cut the block 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, new artist’s brush to lift a tiny patch of gold leaf about the size of an oatmeal flake and deposit it on top of a caramel. 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.
Dark Chocolate Caramels Variation
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.
To make Chocolate-Dipped Caramels, just dip the caramels, one by one, into tempered chocolate, allow any excess to drip off, and transfer to a sheet of aluminum foil until the chocolate sets up.
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Golden Caramels Recipe © 2000 Flo Braker. Photo © 2000 Michael Lamotte. All rights reserved. All materials used with permission.