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Brown Butter Butterscotch Caramels


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By Life Pastry - September 29, 2020

 



Brown Butter Butterscotch Caramels


Makes about 49 caramels

Many people think that butterscotch contains actual Scotch since the word is in the name. However, true butterscotch simply refers to that magical rich flavor of butter and brown sugar and cream cooked together into a candy. The name most likely comes from the term to “scotch,” meaning score; butterscotch candy had to be scored before it hardened so it could be cut into bite-size pieces. I take this already divine flavor and amp it up a notch by browning the butter first. Brown butter is deeply rich and aromatic and it lends a nutty flavor to the caramels that is hard to beat.

Making candies and caramels is not a particularly difficult endeavor but you do need a few key items: a candy thermometer, a lot of organization to have all ingredients at the ready, and a fair amount of patience to wait for the caramel to hit the exact right temperature and then to wait again for it to cool and harden before enjoying.


1 cup/2 sticks/225 grams unsalted butter, cut into chunks

1½ cups firmly packed/330 grams light brown sugar

1 cup/320 grams light corn syrup

1 cup/240 grams heavy cream

½ cup/100 grams superfine sugar

Pinch of cream of tartar

1 teaspoon kosher salt

1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

 

Line the sides and bottom of an 8 x 8-inch square metal baking pan with parchment paper. The easiest way to do this is to line the pan with two strips of parchment, one widthwise and one lengthwise, so there is overhang on all sides. If the parchment isn’t sticking, dab a little butter on the sides of the pan so it does. Spray the parchment with cooking spray and set the pan aside.

In a large heavy-bottomed saucepan, heat the butter over medium-low heat until melted. Once it has melted it will start to bubble and crackle—if you lean in and listen it will sound like an audience of people clapping their hands politely. Watch the butter carefully and you’ll see it slowly browning; by the time the bubbling subsides, after about 5 minutes, the butter will be fully browned.

Stir the brown sugar, corn syrup, cream, superfine sugar, and cream of tartar into the browned butter. Bring it to a roiling boil over high heat.

Using a candy thermometer to check, continue to cook the caramel until it reaches 252°F, 8 to 10 minutes. It can be tricky to know exactly when the caramel is the right temperature because different parts of it will register different temperatures. Swirl the pan and place the candy thermometer dead center in the caramel. (If you don’t have a candy thermometer, set a glass of ice water near the pot and spoon a little of the caramel into the water to test the consistency. If you can gather it in your fingers and roll it into a hard ball, it is the right temperature.) When the center registers 252°F, remove the saucepan from the heat. Whisk in the salt and vanilla. The vanilla will cause the caramel to sputter and spit a bit, so be careful.

 

Pour the caramel into the prepared pan; it will spread out on its own. Let cool at room temperature until completely cooled, at least 4 hours or up to overnight.

Remove the caramel from the pan by lifting up both strips of parchment. Peel the parchment off, place the caramel slab on a cutting board, and use a sharp chef’s knife to trim the square. The caramel will be fairly firm. Cut it into 7 strips, then cut crosswise into 7 strips, to get squares about 1 x 1 inch. To keep the knife from sticking to the caramel, spray it liberally with cooking spray as you cut, or use a little vegetable oil (such as canola) to grease it.

Wrap each caramel in a 3 x 5-inch piece of parchment or waxed paper and twist the ends. Store the caramels in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 2 months.


Apple Cider – Miso Caramels




Makes about 32 caramels

Christopher loves these caramels so much that whenever I make them I literally have to hide them so he doesn’t eat them all at once. Sometimes I forget my hiding places and happen upon a rogue caramel when cleaning out a cabinet. It’s like hitting the jackpot! I’m sure right now I have a few caramels tucked away in a purse or drawer, waiting to be discovered at some future date. The inspiration for this recipe came from the prolific and uber-talented Deb Perelman, who is the author of the blog Smitten Kitchen and The Smitten Kitchen Cookbook. Her caramels are bright and chewy and taste a little like caramel apples. I add rich miso paste to contrast with the tangy cider, as well as ground ginger to introduce a warm, spicy note. Making caramels might seem tricky but all you really need is a reliable candy thermometer. Invest in one and you’ll open the door to a whole new category of baking and confections.


4 cups/960 grams apple cider

½ cup/1 stick/115 grams unsalted butter, cut into chunks

¾ cup/150 grams superfine sugar

½ cup firmly packed/110 grams light brown sugar

½ cup/120 grams heavy cream

1 tablespoon plus 2 teaspoons red miso paste

½ teaspoon ground cinnamon

½ teaspoon ground ginger

 

Line the sides and bottom of an 8 x 8-inch square metal baking pan with parchment paper. The easiest way to do this is to line the pan with two strips of parchment, one widthwise and one lengthwise, so there is overhang on all sides. If the parchment isn’t sticking, dab a little butter on the sides of the pan so it does. Spray the parchment with cooking spray and set the pan aside.

Place the cider in a large heavy-­bottomed saucepan and bring it to a rolling boil over high heat. Boil until it reduces to ½ cup, 30 to 40 minutes. You don’t need to watch it for the first 20 minutes or so, but once it starts to boil down and thicken, keep an eye on it and give it an occasional stir to make sure it doesn’t go too far and burn. It will start to foam up and get darker and thicker and a touch viscous as it gets closer to being reduced to the right amount.

Once it reduces to ½ cup, remove it from the heat and stir in the butter, superfine sugar, brown sugar, and cream. Return the pan to the stove and bring it to a boil over high heat. Use a candy thermometer to keep track of the temperature and boil until the thermometer reads 250°F, (the start of hard ball stage), 6 to 10 minutes. This is the point at which the caramel will be firm enough to hold its shape when it cools. It’s almost ready at this point.

Keep boiling until it gets to 252°F, about another 2 minutes, then immediately remove it from the heat. Watch it carefully, as you don’t want it to go over 255°F. If you don’t have a candy thermometer, set a glass of ice water near the pot and spoon a little of the caramel into the water to test the consistency. If you can gather it in your fingers and roll it into a hard ball, it is the right temperature.

Immediately stir in the miso paste, cinnamon, and ginger until well distributed. Carefully pour the caramel into the prepared pan and let it sit at room temperature for 2 to 3 hours, until cool.

Pop the caramel out of the pan, peel off the parchment, and place it on a cutting board. Use a sharp chef’s knife to cut the caramel into 4 strips one way and 8 the other way so you have 32 pieces. (Dip the knife in hot water and dry it off with a paper towel before every slice for easiest slicing.)

Cut parchment or waxed paper into 3 x 4-inch pieces. Wrap each caramel in a piece of paper and twist the ends. Store in an airtight container at room temperature for softer caramels, or in the fridge for chewy ones, for up to 2 months.

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