During one of our many snow days this winter I watched the episode of Barefoot Contessa where Ina makes these caramels. One of my recipe goals this year was to make them so I thought it was about time! I did do some significant tweaking to the recipe though. Instead of corn syrup I used agave nectar. Corn syrup wigs me out. Instead of butter I used my old standby Smart Balance. And instead of fleur de sel I used regular sea salt. I prefer the flavor and the crunch.
Kim’s Salted Caramels
3/4 cup sugar
3/4 cup water
1/4 cup agave nectar/sweetener
1 cup heavy cream
5 tablespoons Smart Balance
2 tsp. coarse sea salt
Hardware needed: One deep sauce pot, a second smaller pot, candy thermometer, glass dish of any size (I used a loaf pan, see below), and parchment paper.
First, in your deep pot, bring your water, sugar, and agave to a rolling boil until it’s a nice brown color. It will take 2-3 minutes on high heat. Be careful, this burns fast! And if that happens you’ve got to start over.
While that’s boiling, heat your Smart Balance, cream, and one teaspoon of the salt over low heat in the smaller pot. It should just melt together.
When your sugar mixture is the desired color, slowly and carefully pour in your melted butter and cream. This will bubble up like crazy so watch your hands! (Also the reason for the deep pot.)
Cook your caramel mixture over medium heat for 5-10 minutes, stirring often, until your candy thermometer reaches 248 degrees.
Carefully pour your caramel into your parchment paper lined pan. I used a loaf pan because I wanted thick, small caramels. Ina used a bigger pan and rolled her caramels but that seemed like too much work.
Put in the fridge to harden, at least 30 minutes but an hour or more is ideal.
When you can’t wait anymore remove the caramels from the fridge and de-pan (the parchment paper is key here). Cut them into whatever sized caramels that you want. I cut mine into 4 long strips then about 40 small caramels bites. Sprinkle with as much sea salt as you want (I used around 1 tsp., John said it was too much but I thought it was perfect, what does he know).
These are buttery, sweet but savory, and totally addicting. At room temp they are pretty soft. I prefer them right out of the fridge because they are cool and a little harder. Either way, they are totally delicious!