Caramel must be one of my favourite flavour of all time. Caramel cakes or caramel sauce smothered in ice creams, pancakes.. you name it.. I don't know whether it's existed here in Australia, Alpenliebe caramel candy are still my favourite.
I've been meaning to try to make fleur de sel caramels ever since I've seen it in blogs everywhere. I tried looking for fleur de sel here in Melbourne, but so far hadn't had any luck. I tried Essential Ingredients, Simon Johnson and the newly opened Jones the Grocer at Chadstone, but still empty handed. Before my trip, I made a special mission for myself to look for fleur de sel when I'm in Singapore, since I've seen a couple of patisserie in Singapore had mentioned some fleur de sel desserts. I found a couple of gourmet food store in Singapore that I haven't heard before.. To my liking, Singapore has transformed into a foodie heaven!! Perhaps the high number of Western expats residing in the country has lead this small country into it's development. There I was, dragging my parents to the different food stores from Paul de Gastronomie in Paragon, Culina in Robinsson Walk, Jones the Grocer in Denshaw St and finally found one jar (the only one left I might add) at Culina on Denshaw St. I actually jumped up and down when I saw the jar. I also picked up a Vanilla fleur de sel, tempted to buy the lemon one, but I can always made one myself from the plain fleur de sel.
This caramels are quite soft.. Not exactly what I thought it would be. I was kind of expecting that Alpenliebe type of hard candy, not the soft toffee. But the caramelly taste is very addictive! Seriously, M had to hid the jar to keep me from finishing it all by myself. Perhaps next time I will cook it a little bit longer to make it harder. This recipe is seriously easy to make! The only thing you need to be carefull of is not to burn your sugar. A good quality thermometer will do the trick. I made two batches, one with plain fleur de sel and one with vanilla. Really hard to differentiate the two other than a speck of vanilla beans on some of them. Perhaps I should add one vanilla bean to the sugar to make the vanilla taste even stronger.
Fleur de sel caramels
from Gourmet, October 2004
1 cup heavy cream
5 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into pieces
1 teaspoon fleur de sel*
1 1/2 cups sugar
1/4 cup light corn syrup
1/4 cup water
Line bottom and sides of an 8-inch square baking pan with parchment paper, then lightly oil parchment.
Bring cream, butter, and fleur de sel to a boil in a small saucepan, then remove from heat and set aside.
Boil sugar, corn syrup, and water in a 3- to 4-quart heavy saucepan, stirring until sugar is dissolved. Boil, without stirring but gently swirling pan, until mixture is a light golden caramel.
Carefully stir in cream mixture (mixture will bubble up) and simmer, stirring frequently, until caramel registers 248°F on thermometer, 10 to 15 minutes. Pour into baking pan and cool 2 hours. Cut into 1-inch pieces, then wrap each piece in a 4-inch square of wax paper, twisting 2 ends to close.