My friend Ana Elisa’s adventure in making torrone reminded me of how much work these caramels were: it took forever for the mixture to achieve the desired temperature, and I was melting in my kitchen while stirring it; after that, another century went by before I finished cutting them, oiled knife and all. Not to mention they were super soft and hard to wrap, too.
You’ll probably ask me why on earth I am posting such recipe – well, all the trouble slipped my mind the minute I tasted one caramel. :)
adapted from Pure Dessert, flavor idea from here
¾ cup corn syrup
¼ cup molasses
2 cups (400g) caster (superfine) sugar
¼ teaspoon salt
2 cups (480ml) heavy cream
½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
¼ teaspoon ground ginger
¼ teaspoon freshly ground nutmeg
1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
3 tablespoons (42g) unsalted butter, cut into chunks, softened
Line the bottom and sides of a 22cm (9in) square pan with aluminum foil and grease the foil. Combine the corn syrup, molasses, sugar, and salt in a heavy 3 liter (3-quart) saucepan and cook over medium heat, stirring with a silicone spatula or wooden spoon, until the mixture begins to simmer around the edges. Wash the sugar and syrup from the sides of the pan with a pastry brush dipped in water. Cover and cook for about 3 minutes. (Meanwhile, rinse the spatula or spoon before using it again later.) Uncover the pan and wash down the sides once more. Attach the candy thermometer to the pan, without letting it touch the bottom of the pan, and cook, uncovered (without stirring) until the mixture reaches 150°C/305°F. Meanwhile, heat the cream with the spices in a small saucepan until tiny bubbles form around the edges of the pan. Turn off the heat and cover the pan to keep the cream hot.
When the sugar mixture reaches 150°C/305°F, turn off the heat and stir in the butter chunks. Gradually stir in the hot cream; it will bubble up and steam dramatically, so be careful. Turn the burner back on and adjust it so that the mixture boils energetically but not violently. Stir until any thickened syrup at the bottom of the pan is dissolved and the mixture is smooth. Continue to cook, stirring occasionally, to about 118°C/245°F. Then cook, stirring constantly, to 126°C/260°F for soft, chewy caramels or 129°C/265°F for firmer chewy caramels.
Remove the pan from the heat pour the caramel into the prepared pan. Let set for 4 to 5 hours, or overnight until firm.
Lift the pan liner from the pan and invert the sheet of caramel onto a sheet of parchment paper. Peel off the liner. Cut the caramels with an oiled knife. Wrap each caramel individually in wax paper or cellophane.
* the flavor of the spices was very discreet in the finished caramels, so you might want to increase the amounts for a real gingerbread kick
Makes about 80 – I got 100