Sometimes just rendering a dish inedible is taking the easy way out. If you’re heart was really in it, you’d ruin the the dish containing the fancy, hard-to-find European butter, the ridiculously expensive French salt, and the pan in which you made the dish.
Round 1: [Click. Click-click-click. Click.] I was far too engrossed with photographing the boiling candy to realize that the caramel was going from a beautiful golden brown to charcoal in just a few clicks of the shutter. I knew pouring the cream mixture into the scorching syrup would do nothing but waste expensive ingredients, yet I did it any way. In the chaos, I managed to burn the same hand I’d cut earlier putting up the new backsplash. Gah. The only thing worst than the taste of burnt sugar is the smell that lingers in your house, no matter how many by-the-bulk vanilla tealights you burn.
Round 2: [Swirl. Sniff. Sip. Burp. Giggle. Sip.] If vanilla-scented tealights won’t rid your home of the acrid smell of burned-to-a-crisp sugar, you can successfully numb your sense of smell with a crisp, cold Australian Chardonnay. I put the camera away. I didn’t take my eyes off of the boiling candy. Hell, I even “swirled gently” and frequently. I stood at the stove, glass in hand, determined not to go to bed without my candy. And then it all imploded – the heat-safe top separated from the rest of the thermometer mid-air and the business end of the thermometer went crashing back into the pot, sending broken glass and mercury flooding into my pot of perfect caramel. I. Hate. Candy. Thermometers. Hate. Hate. Hate.
Round 2.5: [Cursing. Lots and lots of cursing.] There’s no candy thermometer to monitor a third batch of caramel. The only suitable pot in which to cook caramel is sealed tight (and full of broken glass, mercury, and otherwise perfectly good caramel). I’m out of light corn syrup and chilled wine. It’s after midnight. Round 3 would have to wait for daylight.
Round 3: New candy thermometer + new pot + corn syrup = sugar rush.
Fleur de Sel Caramels
Chewy, salty caramel candies.
- 1 cup heavy cream
- 5 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into pieces
- 1/4 tsp vanilla
- 1 teaspoon fleur de sel, plus more for sprinkling
- 1 1/2 cups sugar
- 1/4 cup light corn syrup
- 1/4 cup water
- Line bottom and sides of an 8-inch square baking pan with parchment paper, then lightly oil parchment.
- Bring cream, butter, vanilla, and fleur de sel 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.
- Carefully stir in cream mixture (mixture will bubble up) and simmer, stirring frequently, until caramel registers 248F on thermometer, 10 to 15 minutes. Pour into baking pan and cool 1 hour. Sprinkle another pinch or two of fleur de sel over the top of the caramel for a nice salty crunch and let sit for 1 hour. Cut into 1-inch pieces (I rubbed butter onto a pizza cutter), then wrap each piece in a 4-inch square of wax paper, twisting 2 ends to close.
Yields: 64 candies
Estimated time: 2 hours 30 minutes