Basic Gooey Caramel (for filling candy)

Carrot Caramel GoodI checked out a beautiful book from the library called Hand-crafted Candy Bars. I don’t know that I will ever do a full-on candy bar, like the authors do so well, but I used the basic caramel for my Easter chocolate, and really loved how gooey and soft it is. So, I’m keeping this one. Also, the caramel had hardened so much after I put it over the ice and then let it rest 2 minutes, that next time, I don’t think I will let it rest, like the recipe advises. Even so, reheating it over the stove for a bit while mixing it worked fine, and I used it without letting it refrigerate.

Basic-Batch Caramel

3 c. ice
1 c. sugar
1/4 c. water
2 T. corn syrup
1/2 c. heavy cream
1/4 c. butter
1 T. vanilla extract
1/2 t. salt

  1. Put the ice in a large bowl and set aside.
  2. Combine the sugar and water in a medium saucepan. Stir the mixture until it resembles wet beach sand. Use a moist paper towel to wipe out any sugar that clings to the inside of the pan. (This keeps the crystals from getting into your syrup, which will make it gritty rather than smooth.) Over medium heat, bring the mixture to a boil without stirring. Add the corn syrup and cook for about 8 minutes, or until it first browns around the edges and then turns entirely the color of honey. When the mixture reaches about 310F on a candy thermometer, carefully place the pan in the bowl of ice for a few seconds (really, just a few! maybe 2 seconds is enough) to stop the caramel from cooking.
  3. Remove the caramel from the ice but let it cool for another 2 minutes, then add the cream, butter, vanilla, and salt, and stir with a wooden spoon. (Be careful! The still-hot syrup sizzles!) If some of the caramel has hardened on the bottom of the pan, return the pan to the stove and melt the bits into the mixture over low heat. Let the sauce cool a little more, then refrigerate for about 1 hour before using in candy-bar production.
  4. Store in a covered bowl or an airtight container in the refrigerator for 1 week or in the freezer for 2 months.
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Homemade Black Licorice

black-licorice

I don’t know why recipes like this appeal to me so much, but I think it was less than twenty-four hours after seeing this recipe from Saveur that I was making it. It was so much fun. If you’ve made caramels before, this recipe isn’t nearly as hard, but if you have never made any candy before, know it might take a time or two to get it right. You’ll need a candy thermometer, but otherwise, no other special equipment. Try it! It’s fun! And really great to eat, too. 

Homemade Black Licorice

8 T. unsalted butter, plus more
1 c. sugar
½ c. dark corn syrup
½ c. sweetened condensed milk
¼ c. blackstrap molasses
⅛ t. kosher salt
¾ c. whole-wheat flour (mine was roughly ground, which accounts for the image)
1½ T. anise extract (available at Olive Nation or Day’s Market 🙂
1½ t. black food coloring

1. Line a glass 8″-square baking dish with parchment; grease. Bring butter, sugar, syrup, milk, molasses, and salt to a boil over high heat in a 2-qt. saucepan fitted with a candy thermometer until temperature reaches 265°. Remove from heat and stir in flour, extract, and coloring; pour into pan. Chill until firm, 30–45 minutes.

2. Invert onto a cutting board, peel of paper, and cut into ¼”-thick ropes; twist to shape. Place on baking sheets; chill 20–30 minutes until set.

Yields about 3 dozen.