Chocolate caramels by Donald Wressell, Executive Pastry Chef of Guittard.
Caramel can be daunting the first time you make it. The two things that will help the most when making this recipe are a candy thermometer and a Silpat (silicone) baking mat. Both are easy to find online or in stores that cater to cooks. A candy thermometer will help prevent over¬cooking the caramel. If your caramel is slightly undercooked, it’ll be soft but that’s not a huge problem. You can always refrigerate it to firm it up. If you overcook the caramel, it’ll break your teeth! Undercooked is always better than over¬cooked. When in doubt, take the pan off the heat. Make sure you have all your ingredients ready and measured out before you start. Once the caramel starts bubbling, the cooking process will happen very quickly and you’ll need to keep an eye on the thermometer.
Yield: 40 caramels
- 4.5 oz/130 g Guittard Nocturne Extra Dark Chocolate Bar (91% Cacao), broken into pieces
- 10.5 oz/300 g granulated sugar
- 1 Tbs plus 1 tsp light corn syrup
- 2 tsp honey
- 2.7 liq oz/80 ml water
- 6 liq oz/180 ml heavy whipping cream
- 1⁄2 vanilla bean
- 1⁄4 tsp baking soda
- 2.3 oz/65 g salted butter, at room temperature
- Fleur de sel for sprinkling
1. Oil an 8” square cake frame and set it on top of a large piece of parchment paper or Silpat mat on a baking sheet. If you don’t have a cake frame, place an 8” square piece of parchment paper on top of a sheet of aluminum foil that’s about 4” longer on all four sides. Then roll up the extra foil along the edges of the parchment to form a sort of tray on the Silpat.
2. Melt the chocolate using a hot water bath or the microwave oven. Stir until completely melted and smooth. Remove the bowl from the water if you used a hot water bath and set aside.
3. In a large saucepan over high heat, whisk together the sugar, corn syrup, honey, and water.
4. In a medium saucepan over medium heat, bring the cream, vanilla bean seeds and pod, and baking soda to a boil, stirring frequently, then lower the heat to maintain a simmer. Stir the sugar mixture to ensure the sugar has dissolved. Continue cooking until the sugar mixture reaches 293°F on a candy thermometer. Using a silicone spatula, stir in the butter. Once the butter has completely melted, pour the hot cream mixture into the sugar syrup mixture in two additions, making sure to not break the boil. Stir well until combined. Stir in the melted chocolate. Turn off the heat and keep stirring until the chocolate is completely mixed in, about 2 minutes.
5. Pour the hot chocolate caramel into the prepared cake frame and sprinkle the fleur de sel over the top. When the caramel has cooled, 1 to 2 hours, remove the frame, or peel back the foil, and transfer the caramel to a cutting board. (If your caramels are still too sticky to cut, refrigerate for 30 minutes to 1 hour.) Cut the caramels into the desired shapes and wrap with plastic wrap, wax paper, or candy wrappers. Store individually wrapped caramels in a cool place for up to 1 month.