The holidays are upon us. HOORAY! Need an inexpensive gift for the hostess of your holiday meal? Perhaps you have a few special friends you want to thank for their faithful friendship over the past few years.
Look no further for the perfect (I really do mean “the perfect”) holiday gift, Ina Garten’s Fleur de Sel Caramels.
The setting is perfect. The fire is roaring, the lights are twinkling, and the sigh of relaxation takes over as you slowly sip a smooth cup of your favorite coffee and savor your sweet, creamy, salty decadent caramel delight after a filling holiday meal. Friends, I’m drooling.
The name sounds fancy (the candy sure is!), but the recipe is simple. I appreciate Ina’s approach to food. Food doesn’t have to be complicated to tantalize your buds. Bud tantalizing happens after you incorporate the best, freshest quality ingredients you can afford into your dish. Fleur de Sel, meaning “flower of salt,” is a fine, light crystal flake of sea salt traditionally skimmed by hand off the coast of France after the sun and wind evaporate the sea water. What a romantic notion, right? An ingredient such as Fleur de Sel makes the candy special and shows your hostess or friend how special they are too.
I found my Fleur de Sel at Williams-Sonoma, but I believe Whole Foods carries it as well. Please comment if you’ve seen it at any major groceries!
Recipe courtesy Ina Garten
Fleur de Sel Caramels
Total Time: 3 hr
Prep: 2 hr 40 min
Cook: 20 min
1 1/2 cups sugar
1/4 cup light corn syrup
1 cup heavy cream
5 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 teaspoon fine fleur de sel, plus extra for sprinkling
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
Line an 8-inch-square baking pan with parchment paper, allowing it to drape over 2 sides, then brush the paper lightly with oil.
In a deep saucepan (6 inches wide and 4 1/2 inches deep), combine 1/4 cup water, the sugar and corn syrup and bring them to a boil over medium-high heat. Boil until the mixture is a warm golden brown. Don’t stir — just swirl the pan.
In the meantime, in a small pot, bring the cream, butter and 1 teaspoon of fleur de sel to a simmer over medium heat. Turn off the heat and set aside.
When the sugar mixture is done, turn off the heat and slowly add the cream mixture to the sugar mixture. Be careful — it will bubble up violently. Stir in the vanilla with a wooden spoon and cook over medium-low heat for about 10 minutes, until the mixture reaches 248 degrees F (firm ball) on a candy thermometer.
Very carefully (it’s hot!) pour the caramel into the prepared pan and refrigerate for a few hours, until firm.
When the caramel is cold, pry the sheet from the pan onto a cutting board. Cut the square in half.
Starting with a long side, roll the caramel up tightly into an 8-inch-long log.
Sprinkle the log with fleur de sel, trim the ends and cut into 8 pieces. (Start by cutting the log in half, then continue cutting each piece in half until you have 8 equal pieces.) It’s easier to cut the caramels if you brush the knife with flavorless oil like corn oil.
Cut glassine or parchment paper into 4-by-5-inch pieces and wrap each caramel individually, twisting the ends. Store in the refrigerator and serve the caramels chilled.
Enjoy, Friends! And let me know how your’s turns out!