New Year’s Day saw us taking a drive along the scenic route to Peggy’s Cove and stopping for a bite to eat at Rhubarb Restaurant – I love the name! It had been highly recommended by Dan from PosterBoy and he was spot on! My sister Kris was visiting from Toronto and she had never been to Peggy’s Cove so we made a pit stop there before heading off to Rhubarb. It was a frigid but sunny day and a pleasure to view the sea from the warmth of Rhubarb’s dining room. As we got acquainted with our surroundings, we asked our waitress about the rooms they had above the restaurant. She said they’re part of Oceanstone Seaside Resort (voted one of the top 5 wedding destinations in Canada). After devouring a delicious brunch, we were given house made salted caramels. These were scrumptious and inspired me to make some.
Making caramels seemed easy enough but candy making is not one of my strengths – patience is a virtue that I have yet to master. I should have done some research and saved me the grief of failed caramels. The texture was that of peanut butter! What to do? It tasted so good I couldn’t waste it. I could spread it on toast for the foreseeable future but I don’t think that would have been a bright idea. And then it hit me, what about recipes that use caramel? I looked in my pantry and came up with pecan caramel sandwich (made a couple, tasted good but too fiddly to make more than a few). My mind drifted to caramel apple parfait; apple crisp with caramel or baked apple filled with caramel. The latter seemed the easiest…core an apple, fill center with a dollop of the salted caramel, bake at 350f for 30 minutes. End result? A scraped clean dessert bowl!
Sea Salt Caramels
created by the ladies of Liddabit Sweets
1 3/4 cup sugar
1 can evaporated milk
3/4 cup heavy cream
3/4 cup light corn syrup
2 tablespoons butter
1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 tablespoon coarse sea salt
Oil or cooking spray
In a medium, heavy-bottomed saucepan, bring sugar, evaporated milk, and heavy cream to a boil over medium heat. Add corn syrup and continue cooking until mixture reaches 230°.
Add butter and vanilla; continue cooking, stirring constantly, until caramel reaches 240°. Remove from heat, stir in salt, and carefully pour into a lightly oiled 9″ x 13″ baking dish (parchment paper in the bottom of the pan is helpful).
Let cool at least 1 hour. Invert onto a cutting board covered with waxed or parchment paper and cut into 1-inch pieces with a sharp, lightly oiled knife. Caramels can be wrapped in waxed or parchment paper or cellophane. (To serve candy-store style, wrap individual pieces in parchment paper and secure the ends with a simple twist.) Store airtight at cool room temperature (around 65°) or in the refrigerator; will keep up to 3 weeks.
The Culinary Chase’s Note: Two things I learned from this debacle: 1. calibrate my candy thermometer (say what?) 2. test caramel by dropping it into a bowl of icy cold water and checking the hardness. When it forms a solid lump that’s the texture that you like, stop cooking it and pour it into your lined pan and let it sit. If only I had known about #2… What’s your caramel story?