I fell in love with making homemade caramels last fall when I found and re-created the Ale and Pretzel Soft Caramels. Those babies are incredibly addicting! I’m not sure how I stumbled upon Shawna’s recipe for these sea salt caramels recently, but I’m so glad that I found them. These are caramels laced with a hefty dose of fleur de sel (or sea salt) and speckled with gorgeous vanilla beans. Caramel has been an acquired taste for me and over the last year or so I have completely fallen in love with the flavor since making candies and sauces at home. I plan on making multiple batches of these once the holidays roll around. Some for munching, and taking a page from Shawna’s book, some for dipping in chocolate!
I buy my fleur de sel (fancy sea salt) at Williams Sonoma. I had been using regular sea salt for a long time, but I can tell you that there is definitely a difference – the fleur de sel is light and flaky. It transforms recipes. Totally magical.
Now, full disclosure – my caramels are a little light and a little flat for two reasons. First, I think I needed to let the mixture go a little longer to the “light caramel color”. I tend to be a bit light-handed when it comes to caramel because it can go from gorgeous to burnt in an instant. But in this situation, it likely needed another couple of minutes to really get the job done. Secondly, and I forgot this from my time spent with caramels last year – if the caramels are a tad soft, you need to wrap them up right after you cut them. Otherwise, they will go sort of flat on you. Case in point above.
All that being said, these are PHENOMENAL. Sweet, salty, caramel, vanilla. They really are incredible. And I highly recommend checking out Shawna’s photos – you will see what these gorgeous candies should truly look like!
And bonus – keep an eye out tomorrow because we’ll be using these candies for another awesome recipe. I couldn’t get enough of the salted caramel goodness!
1. Line bottom and sides of an 8-inch square baking pan with parchment paper, then lightly butter parchment.
2. Bring cream, butter, vanilla, vanilla beans, the vanilla pod, and sea salt to a boil in a small saucepan, then remove from heat and set aside.
3. Boil the sugar, corn syrup, and water in a 3- to 4-quart heavy saucepan over medium heat, stirring until sugar is dissolved. Boil, without stirring but gently swirling pan, until mixture is a light golden caramel.
4. Remove the vanilla pod and carefully stir cream mixture into the caramel (mixture will bubble up) and simmer, stirring frequently, until caramel registers 248 on thermometer. Pour immediately into the prepared baking pan and cool 30 minutes. Sprinkle another pinch or two of salt over the top of the caramel and let sit until completely cooled. Cut into 1-inch pieces (a pizza cutter is perfect for this), and then wrap each piece in a 4-inch square of wax paper, twisting 2 ends to close.