CHOCOLATE–SEA SALT CARAMELS
(Excerpted from “Flavorful” by Tish Boyle. Copyright © 2015 by Tish Boyle. Reprinted by permission of Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.)
Because they’re made with a good amount of bittersweet chocolate, these chewy caramels are not overly sweet. Their dominant flavor is chocolate, with a backnote of deep caramel and the mellow salty note from the Maldon sea flakes at the finish. Maldon sea salt is available at gourmet food stores and from many online sources.
Makes 64 squares
1 1/2 cups (300 g/10.5 oz) granulated sugar
1/4 cup (59 g/2 oz) water
3/4 cup (238 g/8.4 oz) sweetened condensed milk
3/4 cup (246 g/8.6 oz) light corn syrup
8 tablespoons (113 g/4 oz) unsalted butter, cut into pieces and softened
6 ounces (170 g) bittersweet chocolate (62%), chopped
1/2 teaspoon (3.3 g/0.12 oz) fine sea salt
1 teaspoon (4 g/0.14 oz) vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon (1 g/0.03 oz) instant espresso powder dissolved in 1/2 teaspoon hot water
1 teaspoon (4 g/0.14 oz) Maldon sea salt or fleur de sel flakes
1. Line an 8-inch square baking pan with a piece of parchment paper or aluminum foil, letting it extend 3 inches beyond the edge of the pan on two opposite sides. Coat the paper or foil with butter or nonstick cooking spray.
2. Fill a cup with water and place a pastry brush in it (this will be used for washing down the sides of the pan to prevent crystallization). In a clean, heavy-bottomed 3-quart saucepan, combine the sugar, water, condensed milk, corn syrup, butter, chocolate, and fine sea salt and place over medium-high heat. Cook, stirring and washing down the sides of the pan with the pastry brush a few times to wash away any sugar crystals, until the sugar is dissolved. Continue to cook, stirring constantly with a silicone spatula or wooden spoon to prevent the bottom from scorching, until the butter and chocolate are melted and the mixture reaches 250°F on a candy thermometer. Remove the pan from the heat and stir in the vanilla and espresso powder mixture. Pour the caramel mixture into the prepared pan and let it stand for 10 minutes before sprinkling the Maldon sea salt on top. Let the caramel block cool at room temperature for at least 21/2 hours.
3. To cut the block, refrigerate the caramel for 15 minutes (but not longer). Use the parchment or foil edges as handles to lift the block from the pan. Place an inverted baking sheet on top of the block and flip the caramel and the sheet over. Peel off the paper or foil and then re-invert the caramel. Coat the blade of a sharp chef’s knife with nonstick cooking spay and cut the caramel into sixty-four 1-inch squares. Store the caramels in an airtight container between sheets of waxed paper, or individually wrapped in waxed paper, at room temperature for up to 2 weeks.
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