November 19, 2013

Caramels and Lemon Caramels

Continuing in the confections chapter, this week we have two variations of caramels: classic and lemon. Although the lemon caramels aren't caramels at all, but rather chocolate candies made with a specific type of caramel flavored chocolate, Valrhona Caramelia. This particular chocolate is essential is producing the caramel flavor of these candies. As with the other recipes in this chapter, timing and preparation are key to success. Either of these treats would make lovely holiday gifts for friends or family.


I decided to make both recipes this week, and I'm glad I did. They're quite different! First up, traditional caramels. I got everything ready before starting. I didn't use confectionary rulers, instead I used an 8 inch square baking pan lined with plastic wrap, as instructed. I only had half the amount of creme fraiche required, so I substituted heavy cream for the rest. I used Kerrygold Irish salted butter. Cooking the sugar wasn't difficult, and it did spatter quite a bit when I added the cream. But all went according to plan, until it was time to pour the hot caramel into the pan. The plastic wrap caved in under the weight and got all melted into the caramel. It was a mess! But there was nothing I could do about it, so I just let it set up and hoped for the best. A few hours later, I managed to pry the caramel from the pan, losing the edges in the process. I cut away any plastic bits, but the majority of it was good. I cut it into 70 rectangles.

The lemon caramel recipe was quite different, not really a caramel at all. It reminded me of a Tootsie Roll, kind of chocolatey but not really. I used Valrhona Caramelia chocolate and Guittard white chocolate. This time, I taped the plastic wrap to the edges of the pan before pouring the hot chocolate mixture into it. Lesson learned! It was much easier. After setting up, I cut these into larger squares, yielding about 30.

Now for the really fun part. The recipes say to cut cellophane squares to 3.5 by 2 inch dimensions, but when I went to wrap the caramels, the cellophane was too small, and didn't stay twisted closed. So instead, I cut parchment paper to 4 by 3 inch rectangles, and that worked much better. However, I spent at least 4 hours wrapping about 100 individual caramels. It was a bit exhausting. Although they look so cute all wrapped up, it was way too much work. Never again!

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