What better way to say Happy Holidays! than a fresh batch of caramel candies, neatly wrapped individually in pretty paper and ribbons. That’s what I had in mind anyway.
I haven’t made many candies before, but I saw this recipe in Bon Appetit magazine for bourbon-sea salt caramels. It seemed relatively easy, plus I was searching for a holiday treat I could share with friends/ I had a lot of caramel ingredients left over from the last challenge. I do enjoy a nice creamy caramel candy now and then, so I was looking forward to making a homemade batch in my own kitchen. I even went out and bought a candy thermometer for this! I was so pumped.
It doesn’t take a lot to make these – this is what I needed:
- Nonstick vegetable oil spray
- 2 cups sugar
- ½ cup light corn syrup
- 1 14-oz. can sweetened condensed milk
- ½ cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
- 2 tablespoons bourbon
- ½ teaspoon kosher salt
- Flaky sea salt (such as Maldon) – oh yeah…I still don’t know where to find this. So I used the crystal sea salt again.
In a saucepan, I boiled the corn syrup, sugar, and some water until it turned a deep amber color.
When that happens, I removed the pan from heat then added the chopped up pieces of butter…
…the butter made the caramel turn violently bubbly. Then I added the condensed milk until the mixture turned creamy.
It’s like a creamy caramel hot tub…or something. Next, I turned the heat back on and cooked it until my new candy thermometer said 240 degrees. That’s the “ideal” temperature for caramels.
After adding the bourbon, I poured the mixture into a baking pan. This mixture is supposed to go in a 8×8 baking pan…but I don’t have one so it put it in a circle pan instead. I thought this would work out.
Then I sprinkled some salt on top and set it to the side to let it cool.
Maybe I didn’t let it cool long enough – I’m not sure. But the consistency didn’t seem totally right when I removed the caramel from the pan.
I proceeded to try and cut it up anyway. I didn’t have an easy time.
My caramels looked gooey instead of chewy.
I tried to cut it up anyway! Tried.
Most of them (um, all of them) didn’t maintain a nice rectangular shape like I saw in Bon Appetit, but I managed to get a shot of this mostly photogenic beauty.
How did they taste? Not bad! Actually, if I put the caramels in the fridge for a little bit, they stiffen a bit and turn into the chewy caramel candies they’re supposed to be. For these I added extra salt, just because I like it that way.
I wrapped a few in parchment paper, but the caramels were so sticky, I got frustrated and gave up wrapping all of them.
I think these will do! Happy Holidays everyone!
Presentation: Kinda messy…but who cares, it’s candy!
Edibility: Gooey, not too chewy…but still tasty.
Tastiness: Sweet and salty. The best.
Rematch?: Maybe. I didn’t have too much fun scraping off all the sticky caramel off of everything the candy touched. But a small price to pay for this delicious holiday treat!