Chocolate and caramels are a complicated subject matter for me. I love them, but I’m not as crazy for them as other desserts (give me crème brûlée any day). However, I am starting to sing a different tune after having experienced some of the most amazing chocolate caramels ever. My friend, Sara is an incredibly talented blogger/photographer and, turns out, baker, and when she contributed traditional and chocolate caramels to our December Crafty Night, I knew my world would never be the same.
- Read the directions carefully. When you think you’ve ready them carefully, do so again. And again. This is the primary reason why I don’t like baking things, because I will ultimately add an ingredient in before I’m supposed to, and therefore potentially ruin the batch. I could have sworn that the chocolate was supposed to be added in along with the sugar, but not so. That being said, I still think it came out pretty swell.
- Invest in the inexpensive candy thermometer. I made the candies without the thermometer (perhaps because I thought it was a ridiculous thing to purchase), and while they ultimately come out well, they are a lot harder than I would have liked. The temperature needs to be low for these babies to cook properly, so save yourself the agita and get a thermometer.
- Cook with a buddy. You’re going to be stirring that caramel and chocolate for a long time, so having someone around to keep you company is a good idea. Perhaps this is a good time to catch up with your long distance friends over a lovely FaceTime chat?
- Use a smaller, deeper dish. In the same spirit as the thermometer, I didn’t pay close attention to the type of pan I used to pour the caramels, and this led to thinner, harder caramel pieces. Still delightful, but a pain to get out of the cookie tray and to cut.
- Salt is key, so don’t scrimp! I sprinkled an extra dose of freshly cracked salt on top of the caramel after they had been cut. Perfect touch.
- If you make this recipe using half the ingredients, that also translates to half the cooking time. Yeah, didn’t even think about that until just now.
Like I said though, even with all these mishaps, the caramels came out very nicely. Because they’re on the crunchier side, think about crumbling up some of the broken pieces and you’ll have an awesome ice cream topping that will shock and amaze your dinner guests!
Deep Dark Chocolate Caramels (makes A LOT, about 150 pieces)
- 4 cups heavy cream
- 2 1/2 cups light corn syrup
- 4 1/2 cups sugar
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1 lb plus 2 ounces bittersweet chocolate, chopped in small pieces
- 1/2 pound (2 sticks) unsalted butter, cut into 16 pieces
- Vegetable-oil cooking spray
Spray an 11 3/4-by-16 1/4-inch baking pan with vegetable-oil spray. Set aside in a spot where it will not be moved. In a heavy 4-quart saucepan, combine 2 cups cream, corn syrup, sugar, and salt. Clip on candy thermometer. Bring to a boil over medium heat, stirring occasionally with a wooden spoon, 15 to 20 minutes. Wash down sides of pan with a pastry brush dipped in water to remove any sugar crystals.
Cook, stirring constantly, until temperature reaches 220 degrees, 6 to 8 minutes; watch so mixture doesn’t boil over. Continue stirring, and add chocolate and butter; keep mixture boiling, and slowly add remaining 2 cups cream. Cook, still stirring, until temperature reaches 240 degrees (soft-ball stage), about 60 minutes, keeping mixture at a low boil.
Without scraping pot, pour mixture into prepared pan. Let stand uncovered at room temperature for 24 hours without moving.
To cut, spray a cutting board with vegetable-oil spray. Unmold caramel onto sprayed surface. Using a large knife, cut into 1-by-1 1/4-inch pieces or other shapes. Wrap each piece in cellophane or waxed paper.