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Sunday, January 5, 2014

Salted bourbon caramels

The other night B and I were cooking and I had said I had OCD.  Not the obsessive handwashing, checking-the-lights-500-times-before-leaving-the-apartment, super-duper-cleanly type of OCD (which there is nothing wrong with, it's just not me....just ask people who have seen the inside of my apartment lately, with it's intensely "organized chaos").  I should've specified better, I have cooking-and-baking OCD.  The I-won't-serve-something-to-others-the-first-time-I-make-them-and-must-make-a-test-batch-first, the I-won't-stop-until-the-recipe-is-just-right, and the you-said-dice-the-onion-and-so-I-will-dice-it-until-they-are-all-uniform-size-and-shape types of ODC.

So now that you know that, it should not come as a surprise that tonight I made my third batch of caramels in 6 days.  That's a batch of caramels every other day, on average!

First were the classic caramels.  They were delicious and a bit chewy, but a bit thinner than I had hoped, due to a smaller batch and a too-big pan.  So they second time, I made espresso caramels, from the same website as the classic caramels, but I'm pretty sure they got slightly overcooked.  They were more of a sucking-candy consistency; crunchy and not all that chewy, but still get-stuck-in-your teeth good like caramels.  So this time I decided to try a different recipe altogether, and made these Salted Bourbon Caramels.  I figured I'd try the recipe as is, even though I'm not a lover of bourbon, because caramels can be oh so temperamental.  Oh, and I still had some leftover bourbon from when I made those Pecan Potato Chip Cupcakes.

Now I have to say, the salted bourbon caramels were gooooood, even though I don't love bourbon.  But, I did think about adjusting them a little; maybe upping the vanilla and removing the bourbon altogether.  The bourbon flavor was kinda mild, so if you're a bourbon lover, I might up the bourbon a little.  See, this is where my cooking-and-baking OCD rears it's ugly head....

Just an FYI, these caramels are soft and chewy, and a little bit sticky, so I highly advise that you coat the knife with some cooking spray before cutting them.  I even wrapped mine in some wax paper so that they held their shape, since they were a bit soft.

Salted Bourbon Caramels


Nonstick vegetable oil spray
2 cups sugar
1/4 cup water
1/2 cup light corn syrup
1 14 oz. can sweetened condensed milk
1/2 cup unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
2 Tbsp bourbon
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 tsp kosher salt
flaky sea salt

Wax paper, to wrap candies
Lightly spray an 8x8 inch pan with vegetable oil (I used by 9x9 inch pan, and sprayed with Pam).
Line with parchment both ways, and spray the parchment.
Set aside.
In a large saucepan over medium-high heat, combine the sugar, water, and corn syrup.
Bring to a boil, gently stirring to dissolve the sugar.
Once the mixture reaches a boil, let it cook relatively undisturbed (swirl occasionally) until it is a deep amber-brown.
This takes about 10 minutes, give or take a few.
Remove from the heat and add the sweetened condensed milk and butter.
It will bubble furiously AND STEAM (oh, did it steam!  I got a mild steam burn from it, so be uber careful), so whisk and be careful!
Whisk until it is completely smooth again, then return to medium-low heat.
Cook, whisking continuously, until the candy thermometer registers 240 F.
Remove from heat and whisk in bourbon, vanilla, and ½ tsp salt.
Whisk until smooth, then pour into your prepared pan.
Liberally sprinkle sea salt over the top, and let cool before cutting and wrapping in wax paper.
I highly advise coating the knife in cooking spray before cutting them, since they are a bit sticky and soft.

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