DIY Salt Caramels

Un-Gift Guide 2008

Here's another wonderfully easy candy recipe for the holidays - salt caramels! Here's the recipe, along with links to great ideas for pretty wrapping and packaging.

Ingredients
* 1 cup heavy cream
* 5 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into pieces
* 2 teaspoons sea salt, plus extra for sprinkling on top. Sea salt is found in specialty food stores under the name "fleur de sel." You can also experiment with artisanal salts if you like.
* 1 1/2 cups sugar
* 1/4 cup light corn syrup
* 1/4 cup water

Equipment
* 8" square baking pan
* Parchment paper
* Candy thermometer (or a deep-fat thermometer)
* Wax paper for wrapping or paper candy cups

Yield: About 40 caramels.

Directions
* Line the bottom and sides of the pan with parchment paper and lightly oil the paper.
* Bring the cream, butter and sea salt to a boil in a small saucepan; remove from heat and set aside.
* Boil the sugar, corn syrup, and water in a heavy saucepan, stirring until sugar is dissolved. Bring to a boil, without stirring but gently swirling pan; then cook without stirring until the mixture reaches 248°F, the firm-ball stage.
* Carefully stir in the cream mixture—the mixture will bubble up. Simmer, stirring frequently, about 15 minutes. The temperature should not go higher than 250°F.
* CANDYMAKER TIP: To get the caramel consistency you want, test by dropping a spoonful of caramel into a bowl of cold water. It will form a ball, which you can test with your fingers. Stop cooking when the ball is the consistency that you want.
* Pour the mixture into the baking pan and cool 2 hours.
* OPTIONAL: You can enrobe your caramels in tempered melted chocolate; sprinkle the top with some grains of sea salt (pretty salts make a difference); or press in some culinary lavender buds.
* Cut into 1-inch pieces, then wrap each piece in a 4-inch square of wax paper, folding ends or twisting to close like taffy.
* ALTERNATIVE: Pour the caramel into individual candy cups.

Related:
Ginger Cinnamon Caramels
DIY Peppermint Patties
Candy-Making Basics: Do You Use Wood or Metal Spoons?
Un-Gift Guide 2007: Wrapping Homemade Candy
Candy-Making Basics: How to Work with Sugar
Un-Gift Guide 2007: Old-Fashioned Candy Goodie Bags

(Image: Faith Hopler | Recipe: The Nibble)