Saturday, February 12

A Box of Chocolates

Whether you love it, or love to hate it, Valentine's Day is upon us.  Chalky-sweet conversation hearts.  Homemade paper valentines passed between nervous grade schoolers. Red and pink decorations.  Chubby cherub babies flying around shooting their love arrows at the sad and loveless.  Despite all of it's artificial sweetness, Valentine's Day does have one perk:  Big boxes of chocolates.  This year instead of buying the name brand, flavor mapped variety, I decided to make my own.  As previously mentioned (here and here) I really love salted caramel.  Maybe a little too much.  These caramel lovelies are made with lots of sea salt and dunked into the darkest dark chocolate to coat.  A generous sprinkling of sea salt tops them off.  They are decadent, richly sweet and hold just the right amount of lovely saltiness.  Kind of like Valentine's Day itself.

Chocolate Covered Salted Love Caramels
Makes a lot (but that's a good thing)

1 cup heavy cream
6 Tbsp unsalted butter
2 tsp sea salt + more for sprinkling on finished candies
1 1/4 cups sugar
1/4 cup water
1/2 cup light corn syrup
12 oz dark chocolate (preferably 72% cocoa), chopped

special tools
candy thermometer

Spray a 9x5 inch loaf pan (glass or metal) with non-stick spray and then line with parchment paper (see photo below).  Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper.  Set pans aside.

For the salted caramel:

In a small sauce pot, combine the cream, butter and salt.  Bring to a simmer over medium heat until the butter is melted and the salt is dissolved into the cream.  Turn off the heat and set aside.

In a large sauce pot, combine the sugar, water and corn syrup and bring to a boil over medium-high heat.  Cook until the mixture reaches 350 degrees on a candy thermometer.  Turn off heat and carefully pour in the scalded cream mixture.  The mixture will bubble violently.  Carefully stir with a heat-safe silicone spatula and turn the heat back on to medium.  Reheat the mixture to 248 degrees (firm ball stage).  Once up to temperature, turn off the heat and carefully pour the caramel into the prepared loaf pan.  Allow the caramel to set up at room temperature for around 20 minutes and then place in the refrigerator and cool until set, approximately one hour.

Once the caramel has chilled, transfer the caramel from the loaf pan onto a cutting board.  Trim the edges of the caramel and carefully slice into strips, widthwise.  Continue to cut these strips into cubes.  Return cubes to the refrigerator while you prepare the chocolate.

For the chocolate coating:

Create a double boiler by placing a medium sized, heatproof glass bowl over a pot of gently simmering water.  Be sure that the glass bowl fits snugly into the sauce pan and that the bowl doesn't touch the water.  Add half of the chopped chocolate and melt, stirring occasionally until completely smooth.  Remove the bowl from the pot and little by little, add in the rest of the chopped chocolate, stirring until each portion is melted into the warm chocolate.  When all of the chocolate is added and melted, continue to stir for another few minutes. Your chocolate should now be tempered.  To test, smear a thin layer on a butter knife and place in the refrigerator for 1-2 minutes.  If the chocolate on the knife is hard and shiny, you've successfully tempered your chocolate.

One by one, place a caramel on a fork and gently dip into the bowl of warm chocolate.  You  may have to use a spoon to help coax the chocolate over the caramel.  Wipe the bottom of the fork on the side of the bowl and gently transfer covered caramels onto the parchment lined baking sheet to set up. (See my candy bar post for more information on this technique).  While the chocolate is still wet, sprinkle the tops with sea salt.  Repeat until all of the caramels are dipped.  Once finished, place the baking sheet in the refrigerator until set, about 10 minutes.  Allow to come to room temperature, box up and enjoy.

Using a loaf pan makes the caramel the perfect thickness for cutting into candies.
Trim the edges, cut into strips and then cut into cubes.
Deep, dark chocolate pairs so well with the sweet caramel.
Package up these homemade chocolates for your Valentine. . .
Or keep them for yourself!

1 comment:

  1. I just read about your baked treats at the farmers market in the star tribune! Congrats on chasing your dreams! they look great. If you love salted carmel, I don't know if you have ever tried these dark chocolate covered salted carmel balls that they have at the Linden Hills co op? They are my favorite but after reading this post I may have to try to make my own!