One of my favorite recipes from the Daring Baker Challenges is actually from a bonus challenge, Golden Vanilla Bean Caramels. The recipe was originally posted on the Nov 28, 2008 challenge.
GOLDEN VANILLA BEAN CARAMELS
- makes eighty-one 1-inch caramels -
1 C Golden Syrup
2 C Sugar
3/8 t Fine Sea Salt
2 C Heavy Cream
1 1/2 t Pure Vanilla Extract
3 T Unsalted Butter, cut into chunks, softened
Line the bottom and sides of the baking pan with aluminum foil and grease the foil. In hindsight, I should have used parchment paper.
Combine the golden syrup, sugar, and salt in a heavy 3-quart saucepan and cook over medium heat, stirring with a silicone spatula or wooden spoon, until the mixture begins to simmer around the edges.
Ingredients ready to heat...
Stir over medium heat to melt the sugar and syrup mixture.
When you see bubbles on the edges, wash the sugar and syrup from the sides of the pan with a pastry brush dipped in water. Cover and cook for about 3 minutes. (Meanwhile, rinse the spatula or spoon before using it again later.) Uncover the pan and wash down the sides once more.
Attach the candy thermometer to the pan, without letting it touch the bottom of the pan, and cook, uncovered (without stirring) until the mixture reaches 305°F.
When the sugar mixture reaches 305°F, turn off the heat and stir in the butter chunks.
Gradually stir in the hot cream;
[WARNING: have a catch pan ready... when you stir the mixture with cream it will want to foam over. Place the pot in a large metal bowl to catch any overflow!]
Turn the burner back on and adjust it so that the mixture boils energetically but not violently. Stir until any thickened syrup at the bottom of the pan is dissolved and the mixture is smooth.
Stir, stir, stir!
Continue to cook, stirring occasionally, to about 245°F. Then cook, stirring constantly, to 260°f for soft, chewy caramels. Remove the pan from the heat and stir in the vanilla extract, if using it.
Note: Over medium heat, cooking to 260F is a long process with constant stirring. If you don't stir, you risk a boilover which would be a mess to clean up. However, the results are well worth the effort!
Pour the caramel into the lined pan.
Let set for 4 to 5 hours, or overnight until firm.
Lift the pan liner from the pan and invert the sheet of caramel onto a sheet of parchment paper. Peel off the liner.
Darn! I didn't butter the foil enough. I'm getting stickage. I should have tried parchment paper instead of aluminum foil.
I found that a pizza cutter does great at cutting the caramels. I actually left the slab whole, but had to cut off an edge since the caramel was stuck in the foil.