Brown sugar caramels

Standard

I wondered if using dark brown sugar would change caramel-making. Well, the making is the same. The results were slightly different but positive.

Here’s how to go about it:

Brown sugar caramels
1½ cups heavy cream
¼ cup unsalted butter
Pinch of salt
1 cup dark brown sugar
½ cup granulated sugar
¼ cup light corn syrup or golden syrup
¼ cup water
1½ teaspoons vanilla
Sea salt to top, if desired

Lightly oil or spray an 8×8-inch square pan and line with parchment paper (the baking spray helps keep the parchment in place). Set aside.

Heat the cream, butter and salt in a small saucepan and heat together over medium-low heat until cream steams and butter is melted. (Or do the same in a microwave-safe bowl in the microwave on high in 30-second intervals until cream is hot and steamy and the butter is melted, stirring or swirling gently between microwave intervals.) Set aside.

In a large heavy-bottomed pot add the sugars, syrup and water. Whisk until thick and grainy. Clip your candy thermometer to the side of the pot, making sure the tip is submerged but not touching the bottom of the pot.

Turn the heat to medium. Without stirring, heat to 260 degrees F. Remove from heat, then slowly whisk in the cream mixture. Mixture will boil up so do this carefully.

Return to heat and, again without stirring, heat to 250 degrees. Turn off heat, quickly but gently whisk in the vanilla, and carefully pour into the prepared pan. Do not scrape the bottom of the pot, as this will have burned sugar that you do not want in your caramels.

Top caramels lightly with coarse sea salt, if desired. Allow to cool completely, at least 2-3 hours or, preferably, overnight. Cut into squares or rectangles and wrap each piece in waxed paper.

random brownies

Standard

Putting together a bunch of wee packages of gifts and homemade candy and stuff, I find that I still have a bunch of baking-related ingredients on hand and want to rid myself of them. First I had the urge to make cinnamon rolls for the first time in about eight years (underway); I was in the midst of making candy for the first time since probably 2001 (?). Then I thought I should use some other stuff and made a random batch of brownies – no clue how they have turned out or how they taste since I don’t eat this stuff… this is why I work. Not for professional pride or a paycheck… but to feed fellow workers with sugar. Haha. Not really, but yeah, when I have taste tasters, I am always more willing and inspired to make things to test.

Meanwhile my house is heavily fragrant with cinnamon and vanilla. My hands, even after washing them a million times, carry the faint aroma of vanilla caramel.

Try your hand at brownies:

1/2 cup melted, unsalted butter
3/4 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup white sugar
2 large eggs
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/2 cup flour
3/4 cup cocoa
1/2 teaspoon baking soda

Preheat oven to 175C/350F

Mix melted butter and the two sugars.

Add in eggs, one at a time.

Add vegetable oil and vanilla.

In a separate bowl, combine the dry ingredients and then add them to the wet mix in a few intervals. Don’t overstir.

Bake in a greased 8″x 8″ square pan for 25-30 minutes. I also added in some holiday red and green chocolate chips I had on hand. You can add nuts or sprinkles or chocolate chips or whatever strikes your fancy. Obviously – they’re your brownies.

attempt at vegan caramels

Standard

I knew I would be making regular caramels, hit as I have been with this urge to make candy (rather than bake). But again, this experimental bent made me decide to make vegan caramels as well.

First of all, I needed to get a new candy thermometer. I lost mine somewhere in my many moves. I bought two. One is vastly superior to the other, I have now learned.

Vegan caramels use coconut milk instead of cream. They were also made in an entirely different way from regular caramels (which are generally made all in one pan).

Things came together rather the way I would expect.

IMG_0608

Here we go…

Vegan caramels
2 or so tablespoons of melted coconut oil, melted, plus more for cutting caramels
1 (16 ounce) can (about 2 cups) coconut milk
3⁄4 cup golden syrup or light corn syrup (I used golden syrup)
1 tsp. coarse sea salt
1 3⁄4 cups sugar
3⁄4 cup water

Line the bottom and sides of an 8″x8″ square baking dish with parchment and brush with coconut oil; set aside.

Combine the coconut milk, syrup and sea salt in a 4-quart (2L) saucepan. Heat over medium low, stirring constantly for 3 to 5 minutes until mixture is warm and any coconut milk clumps are dissolved. Remove from heat and set aside.

IMG_0607

In a large saucepan, combine the sugar and the water and stir until sugar is wet. On medium-high heat, let cook without stirring until the sugar is light amber in color and a candy thermometer reads 310°F/155°C. Immediately remove from heat and pour melted sugar into the coconut milk mixture. Do this with care: the mixture will bubble and splash rather violently.

IMG_0606

Return saucepan to medium-low heat, stirring continuously until all the caramel is dissolved. Raise the heat to medium high, stir continuously, and cook until caramel becomes quite thick and a candy thermometer reads 240°F.

Immediately remove from heat and pour into the prepared pan.

IMG_0613

Let cool completely and cut into 1″ squares. Brush your knife with melted coconut oil between cutting to avoid sticking. Wrap individually in wax paper squares. Store at room temperature.

Verdict…

Well, I think this needed to be cooked a bit longer (beyond the 240F mark). I tasted it, and it tastes quite the way you’d expect – like caramel but not quite (i.e., it’s still made from coconut milk not butter and cream). But it was just too ‘runny’ in trying to cut it up, making it stringy and impossible to cut or wrap in pieces. It was just shy of being where it needed to be in terms of its solidity and texture, so this is kind of a sad and unsuccessful attempt, even if I can see that it would work if left to cook a little bit longer… better luck next time.

IMG_0620

four fingers

Standard

When I sent out my latest CD mixes (the physical CD ones) I enclosed with them the Norwegian version of KitKat. It almost does the Norwegian version, Kvikk Lunsj, a disservice to compare them. For people who like chocolate and KitKat, Kvikk Lunsj will probably change your mind and you’ll be a convert in no time. I am not sure why I made it my mission to proselytize. I don’t care for chocolate or KitKat and am not really invested in anything Norwegian, but I guess when there is something that is so clearly superior, and I can spread it around the world, I figure why not.

And I am not alone. Clearly the word’s out that Kvikk Lunsj’s four fingers can make part of a fist to beat the shit out of KitKat.