Saturday, November 03, 2007

Intoxicating caramels...

Clean, yet intensely flavored, I've been itching to make these Espresso Caramels since Heidi posted about them a few weeks ago. While we've made homemade caramel before, this recipe has just a few ingredients which I thought might make the process a little less intimidating for those who have not messed around with candy making before. Jeff and I also thought they had a rather enjoyable adult flare to them.

Heavy cream, espresso powder, sea salt and honey are the only four ingredients you need to create these chewy delights for yourself. While some people shy away from recipes that use the candy thermometers, it is really not that scary and this would be a fun way to get you started! It is quite important in these types of recipes to use a thermometer though as you need to get the temperature of the candy high enough so it will set correctly as it cools.

Most caramel recipes I've read or made have you cook the mixture until it is anywhere from 234 degrees up through 250 degress depending on how firm you want the resulting candy to be. However, since this recipe is a little untraditional, Heidi noted that she had to bring her mixture up to 260 degrees (hard ball stage) for it to set firmly enough - I took mine off the heat at 258 degrees and liked the resulting texture. If you want your caramels to have flecks of espresso throughout the candy, you can just use ground espresso - I only had instant espresso powder on hand which melted into the caramels and gave them a slightly deeper color.

They are caramels after all so they are quite sweet; however, using honey instead of granulated or brown sugar with the addition of sea salt helped to keep them from being tooth-achingly sweet. The shiny pieces are firm enough to keep their shape when you cut them, yet they are satisfyingly chewy and soft. When I took my first bite I prepared myself for an overwhelming espresso flavor, but I was quickly surprised with how much of a lush honey flavor swept around my tongue. The espresso was very faint and we talked about adding a touch more next time, but after thinking about it we both agreed that it was actually just right and any more might taint the fantastic honey taste. Once we cut them into rectangles , we cut a couple pieces of wax paper to determine what size would work the best to wrap them and then used that piece as a template to mass cut the rest. I think these might just have to find a spot in the upcoming Christmas baking bonanza!


  1. Joe, Now I gotta tell you those look damn good! Looks like I am going to have to go buy a candy thermometer. Your recipes really are good and amaze me that you love to cook as much as you do!!!

    The other thing I like is that most of your recipes are good for two...since now it is just Mom and I.

  2. Those are so beautiful Joe. I think I could even manage those!

  3. I never made caramels before. I'll like to taste yours.

  4. They look really nice!! How did you get them in such a lovely smooth shape???

  5. Joe - Oh my goodness. Those caramels look magically delicious.

  6. Stunning confections and one of my favorite flavor combos. Thank you for inspiring a holiday gift!

  7. Wow...those look absolutely perfect. I adore anything that is "sweet + sea salt." I don't have a candy thermometer - I wonder if that's why I keep screwing up caramel (?) Mine always comes out so runny (when I've made it for pies and tarts, etc.) Any tips?

  8. I love caramels, and I'd love to make them myself - I'll have to see if I can find espresso powder in Italy, though. We're full of espresso but not sure for baking!

  9. I can't think of any good reason why they -shouldn't- be in your upcoming Christmas Baking Bonanza (is that trademarked?), they're gorgeous! Besides it gives you something to work on while the oven is full :)

  10. Sara - Thank you!

    Sarah - Thanks!

    Helene - too bad you are not closer!

    Anon - That is just how they cut - we didn't do anything special or unique.

    Ed - hee hee... thanks!

    pastry studio - our pleasure!

    Miss scarlett - My tip would be to go out and get a candy thermometer! They really are worth it and take the guess work out of the equation.

    Lunch buckets - Good thinking as the oven is usually stuffed when it gets closer to that time of the year!

  11. Joe, you can make jars of these as Christmas gifts this year, what do you think?

    The caramels look so good to be mail-ordered also :) seriously.

  12. I am pretty scared of any cooking that involves thermometers but there is no good reason for this, I've been seeing lots of sea salted caramel recipes that I want to try so maybe I'll have to conquer the fear.

    These look great and so sweet when they are wrapped up - perfect as gifts.

  13. Cynthia - Sounds like a plan to me!

    Gemma - Conquer that fear and whip out the thermometer! It is worth it.