Homemade, soft and chewy caramels sprinkled with sea salt and dipped in a rich, premium chocolate. A definite treat worth trying!
As February comes to a close, what things do you usually think of when you think of February? Hearts, roses, chocolate, candy, fudge, cheesecakes … are just a few that come to my mind.
If you would have asked me a year ago, I had no plans on ever making candies on this baking site. I’ve tried making toffee and caramel in the past and usually it has been an epic fail. I finally broke down during the Christmas holiday and invested in a candy thermometer. If you are interested in making caramels or chocolate candies, a candy thermometer is a must!
I trialed two recipes for caramel and both are easy to make and have good results. Both recipes are more of a soft and chewy caramel versus a hard, pull out your fillings type of caramel.
I’ll have to say that making the caramel was the easy part. Trying to dip the chocolate – not so easy. In fact, no matter how meticulous you try to be, this is a messy project.
I found the first recipe at Inspired Taste and the second recipe at Allrecipes.com
The first recipe had more ingredients and had a longer cook time. I found this recipe also kept it’s shape better afterward.
The second recipe had sweetened condensed milk and brown sugar in the recipe and took a shorter time to reach caramelization. It was impossible to use a mold or cookie cut-out with this caramel and trying to cut it into squares proved aggravating. This version had to be refrigerated prior to cutting; otherwise, it was like working with silly putty. If the caramel wasn’t chilled, it was an unruly mess trying to cut into clean squares.
I’ll be sharing recipe one since it had an excellent taste and held it’s shape better. In a small saucepan, add in water, corn syrup, and granulated sugar. Gently stir the ingredients together.
Heat over medium heat until the sugar comes to a boil. (will take about 7 minutes) Cover with lid for one minute so any sugar stuck to side of pan will melt with the steam. Attach candy thermometer to the side of the pan.
Continue to cook on medium heat until temperature reaches 320 degrees F. Sugar will start to look light yellow in color.
Once sugar has reached 320 degrees F, slowly add in a fourth of the butter and cream mixture and then stir. Keep repeating this process until all the butter and cream have been used. This will cause the temperature to drop.
Continue cooking for another 5 to 10 minutes, or until the caramel reaches a temp of 240 degrees F.
Once temperature of 240 degrees has been reached, pour caramel into greased, parchment lined pan. (I used a 9 x 5 inch loaf pan)
Allow to cool for 30 minutes and then sprinkle with sea salt.
Allow to cool for at least 2 to 3 hours and then cut into one inch squares. I used a heart cookie cutter for some of the caramel since it was close to Valentine’s Day when I made these.
Now let’s talk about chocolate. In order to get a smooth, rich flavored chocolate bar taste, you have to use a premium chocolate like Ghirardelli or Callebaut. Candy melts aren’t going to do the trick here. I melted Ghirardelli dark chocolate wafers for my first batch of caramel and I was left disappointed. I did a little more research and learned that you should temper the chocolate. Have you ever heard of this? A candy thermometer is super important for this. It’s basically melting the chocolate to a specific temperature of 115 degrees F for milk chocolate and 120 degrees F for dark chocolate. Once this temp is reached, you remove from heat and add more chocolate to cool down temperature to around 82 degrees. You then reheat the chocolate to only 86 to 88 degrees for milk chocolate and 88 to 90 degrees for dark chocolate. (I used a double boiler to do this)
You’ll need a sheet of wax paper and your caramel should be slightly chilled prior to dipping. I found room temperature caramel literally starts melting as it’s dipped in the chocolate. I also noticed that no matter how carefully I tried to ease the chocolate covered caramel from the fork, it was still messy and the caramel wanted to lose its shape. If you’re a perfectionist, you’ll probably be tempted to start screaming right around now because I admit it’s frustrating.
This is an arduous process and the chocolate gets messy, regardless of how careful you’re trying to be. When you pull your fork out of the chocolate, you’re supposed to tap your wrist, not the fork to get the excess chocolate off. You’re supposed to have the caramel placed more toward the edge of the fork and then use a toothpick to gently slide onto parchment paper. I tried this technique several times and finally gave up because my caramel was getting misshapen. What I chose to do instead was lay out the caramels on the wax paper and spoon the chocolate over the caramels.
I waited for them to dry and then flipped the caramels over and proceeded to spoon chocolate on each caramel. I found this process much easier and way less frustrating. In the picture above, the caramels on the left with the dull colored chocolate were my first attempts with the melted chocolate wafers. As stated earlier, I wouldn’t really recommend that method. I ended up covering some of them with the tempered chocolate instead. The tempered chocolate has the glossy sheen to it.
So I hope you’re still with me. Once the chocolate has hardened, use a sharp knife to cut around the edges.
This was my first attempt with this and overall, the candies did not come out looking like store bought perfection, but boy do they taste great. I took these to my work to share with my coworkers and they got a big thumbs up! Hope you enjoy this recipe.
Salted Chocolate Covered Caramels
Homemade, soft and chewy caramels sprinkled with sea salt and dipped in a rich, premium chocolate. Definitely worth trying!
For the caramels:
- 1 cup granulated sugar
- 1/2 cup (8 tbsp) unsalted butter
- 1/2 cup heavy whipping cream
- 3 tbsp water
- 1/4 cup light corn syrup
- 1/2 tsp flaked sea salt
For the chocolate coating:
- 4 4 oz Ghirardelli premium baking bar, 60% cacao
Grease bottom of 9 x 5 inch loaf pan and cover bottom with parchment paper. Lightly grease top of parchment paper with butter.
2. In small saucepan, add in water, corn syrup, and granulated sugar. Bring to a boil over medium heat. Cover with lid for one minute.
3. Remove lid and attach candy thermometer to side of pan. Continue to boil until temp reaches 320 degrees F.
4. Once 320 degrees F has been reached, slowly add a fourth of the butter and cream into pan. Continue to repeat process. This will cause temp to drop. Continue cooking until 240 degrees F is reached.
5. Pour caramel into prepared pan. Wait 30 minutes and then sprinkle with sea salt.
6. Let caramel continue to cool for 2 to 3 hours before removing from pan and cut into 1 inch squares.
Place half of the required amount of chocolate pieces into top of double boiler. Attach candy thermometer.
2. Melt chocolate to a temp of 115 degrees F for milk chocolate or 120 degrees F for dark chocolate, making sure to stir chocolate frequently.
3. Remove from heat and add remaining amount of chocolate. Allow for temperature of chocolate to drop below 82 degrees.
4. Reheat chocolate to temp of 86 to 88 degrees F for milk chocolate or 88 to 90 degrees F for dark chocolate.
5. Remove chocolate from heat.
6. Either use fork to dip caramel into chocolate or spoon chocolate over caramel.
7. Place on parchment paper to dry.
8. Store in airtight container.