When Chris Hanmer makes his version of these classic soft French caramels, he uses super-rich Plugrá butter and, for their rounded flavor, plump Bourbon vanilla beans. "I use vanilla like salt," he says. "It makes everything taste better." These caramels are topped with pink peppercorns, gold leaf and sea salt, but they are just as delicious unadorned.
Slideshow: Terrific Caramel Recipes
2 1/2 cups sugar
2 cups heavy cream
3/4 cup light corn syrup
1 vanilla bean, split lengthwise and seeds scraped
1 stick unsalted butter, cut into tablespoons and softened
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
How to Make It
Coat a 9-by-13-inch baking pan with nonstick cooking spray and line it with parchment paper, leaving 1 inch of overhang on each of the long sides.
In a large saucepan, combine the sugar with the cream, corn syrup and vanilla bean and seeds and bring to a boil. Cook over moderately high heat, stirring occasionally, until the temperature reaches 233° on a candy thermometer, about 13 minutes. Carefully whisk in the butter and salt and cook, stirring constantly, until the caramel is golden and reaches 244° on a candy thermometer, about 7 minutes longer. Carefully pick out and discard the vanilla bean. Immediately pour the hot caramel into the prepared pan and let cool at room temperature until set, at least 4 hours or overnight.
Holding the parchment paper overhang, transfer the cooled caramel to a work surface. Using a sharp knife, cut the firmed-up caramel into squares. Wrap each caramel in a square of parchment paper or a candy wrapper and twist the ends to seal. Serve, store or gift the caramels. make ahead The caramels can be stored in an airtight container in a cool place for up to 1 week.
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