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How to Make Caramels

December 2014
How to Make Caramels
PHOTOGRAPHER: 
Cacao’s Artisan Chocolate co-owners David Vagasky and Mark Gray are masters of the art and science of candy making—particularly when it comes to their popular chocolate sea-salt caramels. “And this recipe really is a science,” says Vagasky, noting that the chocolate must be heated to an exact degree, then tempered, or cooled on a flat surface to allow molecular realignment. Here, the chocolatiers share their method for crafting the candies. It’s a bit of a process, which makes the finished product a particularly sweet holiday gift

❶ Lightly butter an aluminum baking sheet and line it with parchment paper.

❷ Make an ice bath and place it near the stove.

❸ Bring eight ounces of unsalted butter to room temperature, then mix with 1/2 cup of dark brown sugar, 1/4 cup heavy cream, and 1/4 cup Karo syrup. Place the mixture in a heavy-bottom saucepan and cook over high heat until the temperature reaches 252°F (use a candy thermometer to check temps).

❹ Immediately remove the pot from heat and place it in the ice bath. Make sure no water comes into contact with the caramel as you stir the mixture into a smooth, glossy mass. Once this consistency is achieved, remove the pan from the ice bath and dry it completely.

❺ Pour the caramel onto the parchment-lined baking sheet and allow it to come to room temperature. (This will take about an hour.)

❻ Using a lightly buttered chef’s knife, cut the caramel into 1½- by 1½-inch squares, and place on a fresh parchment-lined baking sheet.
❼ Temper two pounds of good-quality dark chocolate (find recipe at charlestonmag.com/cacao).

❽ Once the chocolate cools to 87°F, use a fork to dip four to six caramel pieces into the chocolate. Then remove as much extra residual chocolate from the caramel as possible to create a smooth, clean candy.

❾ Return the dipped caramel to the baking sheet and sprinkle it with sea salt while the chocolate is still setting. Repeat until all caramels have been dipped.

❿ Store the finished candies in an airtight container, layering with parchment or waxed paper. They’ll keep for seven to 10 days; do not refrigerate.

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