I don’t really know what came over me. I’m not normally a candy maker in any sense. A candy eater, yes – I have a wicked sweet tooth – but the furthest I’ve ever really gotten with candy was to once make chocolate-covered strawberries. Although they were nice and definitely cheaper than the store-bought variety, they also didn’t look as pretty and seemed to be a lot more trouble than they were worth.
But I ran across this recipe for Spiced Apple Cider Caramels on Sweet Pea’s Kitchen, and for some reason I had to make them. Maybe it is the miserable, un-summery Seattle cliche weather we’ve been plagued with lately* that moved this recipe off the “I might make that eventually” pile and onto the “I must make this right now” pile.
I made them, and liked them, and as soon as they were cool enough to cut and sample, offered one to The Child, who tasted it, spit it out, and pronounced it “Too sweet!”
They were a bit sweet, but so easy to make, I thought, well, maybe I can find a way to cut the sweetness, or a slightly different recipe that she will like more.
The next morning, as we were getting into the car to go to school, she announced she needed to bring something for a class party – first I’d heard of it, and although she balked, I packed up almost all of the caramels and sent them with her. Next time, tell me a couple days ahead.
On the way home later that day, The Child announced that her whole class thought I had made the most amazing caramels ever in the history of the universe, and also, did I know they’re even better frozen?
And I was off to the races. On the way home, we stopped to pick up some frozen orange juice, so that I could attempt this recipe for Orange Caramels.
These were really good too – soft and sweet and lightly citrusy.
I had an urge to make more, and I didn’t disagree with The Child: The sweetness was good, but I wanted something a bit more sophisticated. I’ve always preferred limes to lemons, grapefruits to oranges. I thought perhaps I was beginning to understand the rage for salt on caramels, which, as with so many food fads, kind of snuck up on me and made me a little irritable.
But then I found this recipe for Pomegranate Caramels with Almonds and Kosher Salt over at Vanilla Garlic, a blog I’d never heard of before but will be checking often now. His recipe takes a different approach, using brown sugar rather than the corn syrup of the others.
The recipe uses Alton Brown’s recipe for pomegranate molasses, which doesn’t give off the most pleasant aroma when you make it – until you get to the end.
I’m not sure what I did, exactly, because my caramels are a bit harder than Vanilla Garlic’s appear to be. But they are chewy when eaten and have an oh-so-deliciously marvelous sour and salty flavor. The toasted almonds add a nice crunch.
I’m excited for future experiments with caramel candy making. Vanilla Garlic mentions a recipe for Blood Orange Caramels that has me so excited I can hardly wait for blood orange season. Another blog I ran across demonstrates a technique for Lavender Scented Caramels that seemed intriguing.
What I learned today: Making caramels is not hard at all.
Food fads are not all bad.
*Lately? More like always.