Get out your candy thermometers; the controversial caramel returns! Let’s cook some sugar.
Soft Candy Caramels
Yield: About 70 caramels
2 cups light corn syrup
1 cup granulated sugar
1 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
2 cups heavy cream
2/3 cup condensed milk
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, at room temperature, cut into cubes
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1 teaspoon sea salt or fleur de sel
Lightly spray 9-inch square baking pan with nonstick cooking spray and line it with aluminum foil. Lightly coat the foil with nonstick cooking spray.
In a medium saucepan, gently stir together the corn syrup and sugars along with 1/4 cup water. Set saucepan on low heat and stir gently until the sugars dissolve (avoid sloshing the sides of the pan). Once the sugar has dissolved, clip a candy thermometer to the side of the pan, turn the heat to medium-high, and wait for the mixture to reach 240 to 215 degrees F, about 7 minutes. Keep a watchful eye on the temperature while you proceed with the next step – you do not want it to exceed 250 degrees F.
Meanwhile, in a small saucepan, stir together the cream and condensed milk and set over medium heat. Gently warm the mixture; do not let it boil.
Once the sugar mixture turns amber, remove it from the heat and stir in the butter and warm milk mixture until completely combined (be careful about spattering; it usually bubbles up when you add the milk mixture). Place the pan back on medium heat, stop stirring, and bring the mixture back to 245 to 250 degrees F.
Remove the pan from the heat, stir in the vanilla and salt, and pour the caramel into the prepared pan. Allow the candy to set for 8 hours, or overnight.
Place a sheet of parchment over the caramel and invert it onto a cutting surface. Remove the aluminum foil.
Spray a chef’s knife with nonstick cooking spray or carefully rub a tiny bit of vegetable shortening along the blade. Cut the caramels into 1 by 1/2-inch rectangles, and immediately wrap them in wax paper or candy papers. Twist the ends of the papers to resemble old-school candies. Distribute with brio to friends and family.
The caramels will keep in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 10 days.
Excerpted from Baked Explorations: Classic American Desserts Reinvented by Matt Lewis and Renato Poliafito. Copyright © 2010 by Matt Lewis and Renato Poliafito. Excerpted by permission of Stewart, Tabori & Chang, an imprint of Abrams. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.