Bourbon-Sea Salt Caramels

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.

caramels1

In a saucepan, I boiled the corn syrup, sugar, and some water until it turned a deep amber color.

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When that happens, I removed the pan from heat then added the chopped up pieces of butter…

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 …the butter made the caramel turn violently bubbly.  Then I added the condensed milk until the mixture turned creamy.

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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.

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Then I sprinkled some salt on top and set it to the side to let it cool.

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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.

caramels7

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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.

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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.

caramels10

I think these will do!  Happy Holidays everyone!

Assessment

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!

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