Salted Chocolate Covered Caramels
It wasn’t until 1861, when his light bulb turned on (notice the anachronism?) and he decided there was an untapped marketing opportunity selling his chocolates in heart shaped boxes for Valentine’s Day. He didn’t know it, but modern science has linked the chemical phenylethylamine in chocolate to feelings of excitement, attraction and even pleasure.
Last year, I went pure pastry, making heart shaped Mille-feuille.
This year, having learned how to temper chocolate for my Hot Chocolate Cake, and decided to make these candies. I found and followed an online recipe, but found it lacking. The caramel was a little too soft and the chocolate did not completely set. The tempering instructions were a little vague without specifying the suggested heating and cooling temperatures. I made adjustments based on what I learned from previous tempering and also increased the temperature of the caramel to slightly increase the hardness of the caramel.
The result was these soft, chewy, melt in your mouth chocolate caramels. Complementing the candies were 2 dozen chocolate dipped, heart shaped, shortbread cookies.
Michaels had some pink gift boxes for St. Valentine’s Day (10 boxes for $3.90 with coupon) for a nice presentation.
Helpful note: you will be busy while making this, therefore, have all equipment ready and ingredients measured
out prior to starting.
Makes approximately 24 heart shaped caramels.
- 113g unsalted butter (1 stick)
- 120 ml heavy cream or heavy whipping cream (36-40% butterfat content)
- 3 tablespoons water
- 85g (¼C) light corn syrup
- 200g sugar
- 225g high quality chocolate, milk, dark, or white
- course sea salt as needed
PREPARE PAN AND INGREDIENTS
- Lightly grease a heart shaped silicone mold. I tried the first time with a spray but the caramels came out greasy. I then changed to a light coating of vegetable shortening with better results.
- Cut butter into 8 pieces then combine with heavy cream in a small microwave-safe bowl. Heat in the microwave 30 second bursts until hot and butter has melted.
- Set aside.
- In a small saucepan combine the water and corn syrup.
- Carefully add the sugar so you don’t splatter the sugar up the sides of the pan. Gently stir the sugar into the water and corn syrup, just moistening the sugar.
- Heat on medium until the sugar has come to a boil.
- Cover with a lid for 1 minute to melt any sugar adhering to the side of the pan. Any sugar on the side of the pan will cause the caramel to crystalize and be grainy.
- Continue cooking until the sugar reaches a temperature of 320o F and the sugar turns a light amber color around the edges of the pan.
- When the sugar reaches 320o F, slowly pour about ¼ of the butter and cream mixture then stir, using a small silicone spatula to incorporate it. Be careful, the sugar mixture will boil violently as you add the butter. Repeat with the remaining cream and butter, about ¼ at a time. Add the sugar mixture slowly and carefully to keep the mixture from bubbling over the sides of the saucepan.
- The temperature will drop when you add the cream and butter. Continue cooking for another 5 to 10 minutes, until the caramel reaches a temperature of 245o
- The moment the caramel reaches your desired temperature, pour into the greased mold. I poured the hot caramel into a heat proof 2 cup measuring cup, then into the mold. It was easier to control than straight from the sauce pan
- Cool until firm. (I refrigerated the caramel hearts.)
- Finely chop 225g of good quality semi-sweet chocolate. (I prefer dark chocolate.) The smaller amount of chocolate, the more difficult it is to control the temperature changes, but this amount was enough to coat the caramels.
- Place about 150g of the chocolate in a double boiler or metal bowl set over a saucepan of simmering water. Make sure the bottom of the bowl does not touch the water. Place a candy thermometer or digital thermometer in the chocolate and stir frequently with a rubber spatula.
- Do not let the temperature of the chocolate exceed 120°F for dark chocolate or 105°F for milk or white chocolate. When the chocolate has fully melted, remove the bowl from heat. Wipe the bottom of the bowl to get rid of any condensation as any water in the molten chocolate will cause it to seize.
- Stir in the remaining chocolate a little at a time. Let it melt before adding more.
- Let the chocolate cool to about 82°F. If it is warmer, keep stirring and let it cool some more. If it is cooler, begin reheating in the next step.
- Once the chocolate is 82°F, place it back over simmering water. For dark chocolate, reheat to 88°F to 91°F. For milk and white chocolate, reheat to 85°F to 87°F. Remove the bowl from heat once you have reached the right temperature.
- Spread a small spoonful of chocolate on a piece of wax paper. If it looks dull or streaky, re-temper the chocolate, starting with step 2. If it dries quickly with a glossy finish and no streaks, the chocolate is in temper.
- Keeping chocolate in temper
- Once melted chocolate has been tempered, it must be used before it cools and sets. If it cools to about 84°F to 86°F and is still fairly liquid, it can be reheated to a liquid consistency.
- If it has completely cooled and solidified, it should be re-tempered. Heat it for 5 to 10 seconds at a time, stirring and checking the temperature before reheating. For dark chocolate, reheat to 88°F to 91°F. For milk and white chocolate, reheat to 87°F to 88°F. If you keep your chocolate within these temperature ranges, it will stay in temper and be liquid enough to use.
COATING CARAMELS WITH CHOCOLATE
- One at a time drop the cool caramel into the tempered chocolate
- Use one fork to flip the caramel assuring both sides and the edges are coated.
- Use the second fork to lift the coated caramel out of the chocolate and flip onto the other fork to drain some of the chocolate off the heart.
- Carefully place the chocolate on a piece of waxed paper and sprinkle with coarse sea salt.
- Cool and eat.