Armed with lessons learned from last Christmas, I made two batches of Sea Salt Caramels this year, stopping a few degrees short of what the original recipe stated because last year’s candies set up harder than I would have liked. One batch is destined to be dipped in dark chocolate and the other destined to be gobbled up before Christmas even gets here.
Sweet, salty, chewy and dotted with tiny vanilla bean flecks… These guys don’t stand a chance of making it ’til Christmas.
Fleur de Sel (Sea Salt) Caramels with Vanilla Bean
Sea salt and vanilla beans add an elegant touch to homemade caramel candies.
- 1 cup heavy cream
- 5 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into pieces
- 1/2 tsp vanilla
- 1 vanilla bean pod, split and scraped
- 1 1/4 teaspoon sea salt, plus more for sprinkling
- 1 1/2 cups sugar
- 1/4 cup Lyle's golden syrup (or light corn syrup)
- 1/4 cup water
- Line bottom and sides of an 8-inch square baking pan with parchment paper, then lightly butter parchment.
- Bring cream, butter, vanilla, vanilla beans, pods, and sea salt to a boil in a small saucepan, then remove from heat and set aside.
- Boil sugar, corn syrup, and water in a 3- to 4-quart heavy saucepan, stirring until sugar is dissolved. Boil, without stirring but gently swirling pan, until mixture is a light golden caramel.
- Remove pods and carefully stir cream mixture into the caramel (mixture will bubble up) and simmer, stirring frequently, until caramel registers 246-248 on thermometer. 246 will give you a softer caramel that will stretch when you bite it but is easily squished or flattened, especially in a warm house. 248 will give you a firmer, still chewy caramel. Pour into baking pan and cool 30 minutes. Sprinkle another pinch or two of salt over the top of the caramel for a nice salty crunch and let sit until completely cooled. Cut into 1-inch pieces (I buttered a pizza cutter), and then wrap each piece in a 4-inch square of wax paper, twisting 2 ends to close.
Yields: 64 candies
Estimated time: 1 hour 45 minutes