I’ve been trying to start this piece for you, not sure where to begin. I mean, I could have just apologized for throwing another sweet concoction your way, but I’m not going to do that. Because, why would I tell you I’m sorry about telling you that you must make these now, when you are just bound to thank me later. Consider this an early present to those of you whom I cannot reach and physically present with these caramels, but a few friends and all coworkers did get a chance to sample these and the overwhelming response has been, and this is all you’ve made for us? Isn’t there more??
Perhaps I have struggled with writing this because I don’t know where to begin or how to end. These caramels are beyond decadent and when you taste them, it’s the tiny conflict on your tongue between the salty and the sweet that makes them so irresistible. To have just one and not reach for another is a near impossibility.
I cannot tell you how amazing these are because they are beyond words. Something about salty caramels that transcends mere language. But luckily, where words have failed me, the pictures, hopefully rise to the occasion and tell you what I, frustratingly, cannot.
As I have recently learned (the hard way), caramel should be made in a heavy gauge pot that is preferably not a non-stick. The lighter metal ones are perfect; just make sure your sides are tall enough for the caramel to bubble when you add butter and cream to it. You can also use your cocotte for it if you like, as it’s amazing at distributing heat. Be careful not to mix your caramel when you are cooking it, but gently swirl the mixture from one side to another from time to time. And watch and smell for that deep, deep amber color. You might also find that these seem a bit too soft at room temperature, which is fine as you can just keep them in the fridge, as I did. Not only does their consistency improve, but they have a longer life-span, not that you will have these hanging around much if you’re anything like me.
In retrospect, looking at these pictures, I think I should have cooked the caramel even a hint longer, but it turned out fine enough for this time around. I am still learning how to get it just right, and since salted butter caramel is not a hard thing to enjoy, I think I can just go on making these indefinitely. I know of quite a few people who won’t have a problem with it. That is – if I choose to share.
Fleur de Sel Caramels
1 cup heavy cream
5 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into pieces
1 teaspoon fleur de sel*
1 1/2 cups sugar
1/4 cup light corn syrup
1/4 cup water
Special equipment: parchment paper; a deep-fat thermometer
Line bottom and sides of an 8-inch square baking pan with parchment paper, then lightly oil parchment.
Bring cream, butter, 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 248°F on thermometer, 10 to 15 minutes. Pour into baking pan and cool 2 hours. Cut into 1-inch pieces, then wrap each piece in a 4-inch square of wax paper, twisting 2 ends to close.