NOT Caramel by the Sea

I had some leftover caramel in the fridge. It was (almost) too soft to fill chocolates (see below) but too thick to top ice cream. What a dilemma! Over the weekend I re-heated it, being sure it was 248 degrees then poured it into a hemispherical silicone mold.

I have been practicing chocolate work so I figured this would be a good way to conserve caramel and increase tempering skills, and have some chocolates for quality control consumption.

As I said, I poured the 248F liquid caramel into a mold then tossed the mold into the fridge to set. I weighed and chopped 250 grams of semi-sweet dark chocolate. You want the chocolate to be very fine so it will melt easily during the tempering. Dark chocolate is tempered by melting about 2/3rds of the chopped chocolate in a bain-marie to 120F.
Remove Chocolate covered Caramel 1from the heat and add the remaining chocolate a little at a time waiting for each addition to melt. If after all the chocolate is added and melted the temperature is still above 82F stir until it cools to 82F. Then place it back on the barely simmering bain-marie until
it reaches 85-86F. Remove the pot containing the water and the bowl holding the melted chocolate and place it next to the caramel to be dipped. The temperature of the chocolate will continue to rise a few degrees and should hold at 88F to 90F. Dip each piece of caramel, or whatever you are coating, lift it out with a fork, drain and place on waxed paper. Repeat, repeat, repeat…

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I had some leftover chocolate so put some in a piping bag and set it aside to cool slightly. The rest I poured in the cleaned silicone mold to make some nice hard chocolate candies, or to re-melt sometime in the future. Who knows, I may decide to make more caramel to use up the extra chocolate I have waiting in the fridge.

Chocolate covered Caramel 2

When the chocolate in the piping bag was cooler but not set I snipped the end off and drizzled the lines of chocolate over the dipped chocolate to add some character.

A week ago I tried to make some chocolates for Fran’s Mah Jongg group by using the still soft caramel. They looked pretty, but it was hit or miss if there was much caramel in the chocolate candy. I also used milk chocolate which is much harder to work than the dark semi-sweet. Next I think I should make some more caramel, or maybe nougat and practice with the milk chocolate.

Chocolate covered Caramel 3

 

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Blame It On Rio, or Richard Cadbury

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. heart-pastry

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 temperingimg_0004 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 chocolateimg_0005 dipped, heart shaped, shortbread cookies.

Michaels had some pink gift boxes for St. Valentine’s Day (10 boxes for $3.90 with img_0009coupon) 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.

INGREDIENTS

  • 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
  • CHOCOLATE COATING

    • 225g high quality chocolate, milk, dark, or white
    • course sea salt as needed

METHOD

PREPARE PAN AND INGREDIENTSred-heart-shaped-silicone-mold

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. Set aside.

MAKE CARAMEL

  1. In a small saucepan combine the water and corn syrup.
  2. 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.
  3. Heat on medium until the sugar has come to a boil.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.
  6. 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.
  7. 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
  8. 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
  9. Cool until firm. (I refrigerated the caramel hearts.)

TEMPERING CHOCOLATE

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. Stir in the remaining chocolate a little at a time. Let it melt before adding more.
  5. 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.
  6. 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.
  7. 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.
  8. Keeping chocolate in temper
    1. 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.
    2. 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

  1. One at a time drop the cool caramel into the tempered chocolate
  2. Use one fork to flip the caramel assuring both sides and the edges are coated.
  3. 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.
  4. Carefully place the chocolate on a piece of waxed paper and sprinkle with coarse sea salt.
  5. Cool and eat.

 

Meringue Cups, Not Hwy 66 – Revisited

I had the occasion to make a batch of meringue cups today and thought I would try a variation to the ganache filling I typically use. While researching another recipe on Allrecipies I saw that if, after the unsweetened, grated chocolate (4 oz) is melted in the just barely boiling heavy cream (1/2 cup) the mixture is allowed to cool to room temperature, then whipped soundly (about the head and shoulders), it will become a lighter whipped ganache which is easy to pipe into designs, or as in my case bitter kisses. The sweetness of the meringue cup paired with the bitter chocolate results in a well balanced treat.image image

(After taking the picture i decided to add some blue sugar crystals to sweeten the meringue cups up a bit. Obviously, it’s up to you)

I was working on the railroad…. err kitchen, yeah!! that’s the ticket… kitchen!!

Remember the yellow cake with meringue frosting from a couple of weeks ago. I bet you didn’t realize that was just a practice cake! The real one was for Fran’s work where they are working on a strategic plan. I used David’s Yellow Cake (that is just a name. It could just as easily been Ralph’s Yellow Cake, its just someone named David published the recipe first) as the basis of a commemorative cake for the City of Tamarac.Tamarac Cake

The difference between this cake and the original Yellow Cake is I used fondant to cover this cake and gum paste to make all the emblems and logos. I cheated and used sugar letters to spell “Team 4 Information Management”. My piping skills to write that much just aren’t there… yet. As usual, everything is cake or candy and edible.

Awww… Fudge!

It’s winter. There is a slight nip in the air, sweater weather. It’s the season for caramel corn, sugar on snow and… fudge!! We grew up with fudge every winter, chocolate, peanut butter and the combination thereof. Our fudge was grainy and sweet, not the smooth sweet soft fudge found in stores and from chocolatiers. My fudge retains all the old flavors, textures and memories of fudge years now long gone. (Full disclosure, the recipe is from Betty Crocker’s cook book.)Fudge

  • 4 cups sugar
  • 1 1/3 cups milk
  • ¼ cup corn syrup
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • 4 oz unsweetened baking chocolate
  • ¼ cup butter
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla

Method

  • Grease bottom and sides of 8-inch square pan with butter.
  • In 3-quart saucepan, cook sugar, milk, corn syrup, salt and chocolate over medium heat, stirring constantly, until chocolate is melted and sugar is dissolved. Cook, stirring occasionally, to 234°F on candy thermometer or until small amount of mixture dropped into cup of very cold water forms a soft ball that flattens when removed from water; remove from heat. Stir in butter.
  • Cool mixture without stirring to 120°F, about 1 hour. (Bottom of saucepan will be lukewarm.) Add vanilla. Beat vigorously and continuously 5 to 10 minutes, using wooden spoon, until mixture is thick and no longer glossy. (Mixture will hold its shape when dropped from a spoon.)
  • Spread in pan. Let stand about 1 hour or until firm. Cut into 1-inch squares.