You guys know Marge. She helped with the bagels. Marge is no slouch in the kitchen, I’ll tell you that much. She puts my own Christmas cookie making to shame. I think this year Marge made like 12 different kinds of cookies. That right there is what we scientists refer to as a shit ton of cookies.
My candy thermometer and I slid our way over to Marge’s house the other day to help her make the only candy that she was including in her Christmas cookie packages: salted chocolate caramel. I KNOW, right? It’s fucking sinful is what it is.
Me being helpful initially involved the task of watching the cream on the burner. You see, we were supposed to add the chocolate just before it boiled. So I’m sitting there watching the cream and it’s totally not boiling yet and I’m getting impatient and then all of a sudden I hear Marge’s parents in the other room talking about….the situation. THE Situation. Of the Jersey Shore. So I went in and they were watching some ridiculous scene, probably two girls making out in the hot tub, and, guys, I got totally sucked in. And do you know what happened to the cream? It boiled over and made a huge mess on the stove. And Marge came out of the bathroom all, I give you ONE JOB. And I was like, I know, I’m sorry. THAT IS WHAT I GET for watching the Jersey Shore. That is what everyone who watches that show should get. God was watching me, and he punished me, and I deserved it.
And so Marge and I came up with a sister-adage to the age-old “A watched pot never boils.” Which is, “An unwatched pot boils the fuck over.” So, keep that one in mind in your future endeavors.
After our second try, things went more smoothly. I’d even say we nailed it. We did. We were fucking precise, something that usually escapes me. But with Marge’s help we focused and I think we did good.
Look at this deliciousness. I KNOW we did good.
Makes about 64 caramels
2 cups heavy cream
10 1/2 oz fine-quality bittersweet chocolate (no more than 60% cacao if marked), finely chopped [we used 70% and i thought it was fantastic]
1 3/4 cups sugar
1/2 cup light corn syrup
1/4 cup water
1/4 teaspoon salt
3 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into tablespoon pieces
2 teaspoons flaky sea salt such as Maldon
Vegetable oil for greasing
Special equipment: parchment paper; a candy thermometer
Line bottom and sides of an 8-inch straight-sided square metal baking pan with 2 long sheets of crisscrossed parchment.
Bring cream just to a boil in a 1- to 1 1/2-quart heavy saucepan over moderately high heat, then reduce heat to low and add chocolate. Let stand 1 minute, then stir until chocolate is completely melted. Remove from heat.
Bring sugar, corn syrup, water, and salt to a boil in a 5- to 6-quart heavy pot over moderate heat, stirring until sugar is dissolved. Boil, uncovered, without stirring but gently swirling pan occasionally, until sugar is deep golden, about 10 minutes. Tilt pan and carefully pour in chocolate mixture (mixture will bubble and steam vigorously). Continue to boil over moderate heat, stirring frequently, until mixture registers 255°F on thermometer, about 15 minutes. Add butter, stirring until completely melted, then immediately pour into lined baking pan (do not scrape any caramel clinging to bottom or side of saucepan). Let caramel stand 10 minutes, then sprinkle evenly with sea salt. Cool completely in pan on a rack, about 2 hours.
Carefully invert caramel onto a clean, dry cutting board, then peel off parchment. Turn caramel salt side up. Lightly oil blade of a large heavy knife and cut into 1-inch squares. (If desired, additional sea salt can be pressed onto caramels after cutting.)
Caramels keep, layered between sheets of parchment or wax paper, in an airtight container at cool room temperature 2 weeks. To package them up pretty, the caramels can be wrapped in 4-inch squares of wax paper; twist ends to close.