mary fran links

No, we didn’t win that ring.

salted caramel swirls

It was kind of a busy weekend.

Blondie and I saw friends, had dinner with my family (because my cousin got engaged!), went to a baking demo, went out for lunch, managed to get in a few photos for my class and I made caramels.

Blondie and I were going to do a scavenger hunt/race for an engagement ring on Sunday. But we skipped it. To go to a gluten free baking demo at Williams Sonoma. But I will tell you more about that tomorrow, once I bake something with their new gluten free flour.

jam sessionBlondie graciously jammed on his guitar so I could do some homework. (Rapid fire shots combined into one swell image).

The real story is this caramel recipe. And a cookbook that I think you need.

You see, I was that strange kid that absolutely adored bulls eyes and cow tail candies. The chewy caramel filled with the creamy crumbly white sugar stuff.

This was my second time making the recipe, and it is divine.  (It sure made my dad happy too, he is the one who got me hooked on this type of candy as a kid).

Let me start with the book.

It is Sugar Baby by Gesine Bullock-Prado. Now, before you get all conspiracy theorist on me, yes, she is Sandra’s sister. I refuse to hold this against her (mostly because Sandra was super gracious to the neighborhood kids when she filmed While You Were Sleeping).

Almost the entire cookbook is gluten free. Simply because when you are cooking with sugar and making candies, you don’t need flour. (There are a half dozen recipes at the back of the book, but you could substitute your favorite cake, crepe or pâte à choux recipe for hers and just follow the technique and recipes for frosting and and other bits).

There are recipes for several different fudges, marshmallows, rock candy, milk candy and to top it off, cotton candy.

Another bonus? The ingredients are listed in both US measurements and by weight. (I made the caramels using both sets of measurements). For those of you afraid of relinquishing your measuring cups, the conversions are there. For those of you not in the states or who have started to use scales for baking, the weights are right there for you.

The instructions are clearly written in a friendly voice. She sounds like a friend teaching you how to do these things in the kitchen might sound. There are sweet stories in the recipe head notes and all the recipes look fabulous. (I would like an excuse to make fairy floss, so someone needs to have a party for me to bring it to).

I am sure this book is not dentist approved, but the recipes are fun and approachable. Plus, the author lists variations for each recipe.

Now, a few tips:

  1. Use a metal bowl for your stand mixer, if you have one of those beautiful Kitchen Aids with a glass bowl, whipping the fondant takes twice as long.
  2. The sharper your knife the better. I used a very sharp, serated knife.
  3. Cold caramel-fondant rolls smush less. Although, I think the smushed ones taste just fine.
  4. If it is super humid, you might need an extra tablespoon of cornstarch in your vanilla bean cream. It’s quite alright. It will still taste divine.
  5. Don’t use vanilla extract in the fondant. If you don’t have vanilla bean paste, scrape the seeds from a vanilla bean or use ground Tahitian vanilla beans (I used vanilla bean paste the first time and ground vanilla beans the second time).
  6. Consult the photo tutorial from the author. It helped me visualize many of the steps.

Finally, a recipe.

Salted Caramels with Vanilla Bean Cream
Recipe type: Candy
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 40
 
This recipe is adapted from Sugar Baby by Gesine Bullock-Prado. This is a brilliant interpretation of one of my childhood favorites, and this recipe happens to be gluten free (unlike the industrial variety). These take a bit of time to prepare, and are a good Saturday afternoon project.
Ingredients
  • 1½ cups heavy cream
  • 400 grams (2 cups) sugar
  • 1 cup light corn syrup
  • stick (55 grams) unsalted butter
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt
  • 2 cups sugar
  • cup water
  • 2 tablespoons corn syrup
  • pinch salt
  • stick (55 grams) unsalted butter
  • teaspoon vanilla bean paste or ground vanilla beans
  • 1-2 tablespoons cornstarch, plus additional to dust counter
Instructions
  1. Line a half sheet pan with parchment paper and grease well. Really, grease it. You do not want to end up with a sticky mess.
  2. Prepare your mise en place. (That means get your ingredients out and measured when you start). Cut both measures of butter into small pieces.
  3. Make the caramel. In a medium saucepan with a heavy bottom over medium heat, combine the cream, sugar and corn syrup. Clip a candy thermometer on your pot and stir the mixture gently. When it starts to boil, put your spoon down and step back from the stove. Wait while your sugar bubbles along. (If your pot is too small, it will boil over and make a huge mess. You are better off using a pot that is a little too big – as long as enough of your candy thermometer is submerged to effectively measure the temperature.) When it hits 257 degrees Fahrenheit, remove the pot from the heat, stir in the butter, vanilla extract and salt. Pour it into your prepared pan and spread evenly. Set aside.
  4. Make the vanilla bean cream. In the bowl of a stand mixer (preferably a metal bowl), place the chopped butter. In a clean pot, combine the sugar, water and corn syrup. Put the pot over medium heat, attach a candy thermometer and stir until the mixture becomes clear. Boil the mixture until it reaches 245 degrees Fahrenheit. Pour in the bowl of the stand mixer. Slowly bring the mixer to medium and mix until translucent. Add the salt and vanilla bean paste (or ground vanilla bean). Continue beating until the mixture is white, shiny and mostly opaque. Add 1 tablespoon of cornstarch. Raise the speed to high and beat like crazy. I beat it for about 10 minutes the first time I made these, and 20 minutes the second time. It was super humid, so I also added a little extra cornstarch to help the mixture dry out. Once the mixture looks like it is starting to dry, stop the mixer. It should hold its shape pretty well. Turn it out onto a cornstarch dusted surface and knead. You should have a soft, pliable dough.
  5. Assemble the rolls. Press the cream onto the caramel, leaving a half inch at each of the long ends. Remove the caramel from the pan and cut in half lengthwise (I used a pizza cutter for this). Roll the caramel and fondant into logs. Slice with a serrated knife. If your rolls smush or the fondant squeezes out, refrigerate the candies for about 10 mins. Then continue slicing.
Notes
Try using instant espresso powder in the fondant to create caramel frappucino candies. You can make fat rolls (like the ones pictured), by leaving a half inch of fondant from the short sides, cutting the caramel in half lengthwise, and then in half crosswise to make 4 shorter, wider rolls.

 

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