Showing posts with label Cailler. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Cailler. Show all posts

Friday, June 24, 2011

Golden Vanilla Bean Caramels



This is the chocolate that started me off.   



Almost two months ago I had the good fortune to be invited to Geneva to take part in a meeting of company spouses.  We were also treated to some lovely meals and excursions, one of which was the Cailler chocolate factory in Gruy√®re.    I’ve traveled all over the world, but somehow I had never come across chocolate with caramel and SALT. Ordinarily not a sweet lover, I ate the whole bar, square by square, nibble by nibble until it was completely gone. Then I mourned. Just as well, you say, and you are correct, but that new taste sensation has stayed at the back of my mind now for weeks.
Yesterday, I came across a recipe online, originally from Pure Dessert by Alice Medrich and I knew I had to try it.

Golden Vanilla Bean Caramels
from Pure Dessert by Alice Medrich (And if you, too, love Alice Medrich, check out her blog.) 

Ingredients
1 cup Lyle’s Golden Syrup
2 cups sugar (I used only 1 3/4 cups)
3/8 teaspoon fine sea salt (I used a 1/2 teaspoon since I was trying to approximate my Swiss experience, which was definitely salty.)
2 cups heavy cream
1 1/2 teaspoons pure ground vanilla beans, purchased or ground in a coffee or spice grinders, or 1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract (I scraped the seeds out of one fresh bean then threw the whole pod in while heating the cream, taking it out before adding the cream to the sugar mixture as required.)
3 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into chunks, softened

Equipment
A 9-inch square baking pan
Candy thermometer

Line the bottom and sides of the baking pan with aluminum foil and grease the foil. (Really grease it well or even the foil will stick to this caramel! Mine did in places so clearly my greasing wasn’t thick enough everywhere.) Combine the golden syrup, sugar, and salt in a heavy 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 305°F. 


Meanwhile, combine the cream and ground vanilla beans (not the extract) in a small saucepan and heat 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 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 245°F. (This part seemed to take forever. I had my fire rather low because I didn’t want the mixture to burn but it didn’t seem to go above 225 °F for the LONGEST time, so I raised the flame and the temperature finally began to climb.) Then cook, stirring constantly, to 260°F for soft, chewy caramels or 265°F; for firmer chewy caramels. (Took mine out at 260°F and they are soft and chewy and are a danger to dental fillings for sure!)

Remove the pan from the heat and stir in the vanilla extract, if using it. (I skipped this step since the whole pot was filled with little bitty vanilla seeds and that seemed like enough vanilla.) Pour the caramel into the lined pan. Let set for four to five 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. (This DID NOT work very well for me. My well-oiled knife still stuck to the caramels. My kitchen scissors were much more effective in cutting the caramel into squares.) 

Wrap each caramel individually in wax paper or cellophane.  (I used cling film, cutting off a wide strip and lining the squares up in the middle with an inch or two in between each one. I folded the cling film over from the top and then the bottom, pressing a finger down between each caramel. Then I cut the cling film where I had pressed my finger, to separate them.)

  
These caramels are delicious. If I would do anything different next time, it would be to add even more salt flakes to the top. I mashed a lot of them off as I was trying to separate the caramels into squares.

Enjoy!