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Give Something Sweet

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

 

Photograph by Katie Fiedler

December 10, 2014

Give Something Sweet
Whip up a batch of Cacao’s chocolate sea-salt caramels for the food lover on your list

WritTen by Diane Talbert
 

Cacao’s Artisan Chocolate co-owners David Vagasky and Mark Gray are masters of candy making—particularly when it comes to their popular chocolate sea-salt caramels. “This recipe really is a science,” says Vagasky, noting that the chocolate must be tempered, or heated to an exact degree, then cooled to allow molecular realignment. Here, the duo shares their method for crafting the candies. It’s a bit of a process, which makes the finished product a particularly sweet holiday gift.

1) Lightly butter an aluminum baking sheet and line it with parchment paper.

2) Make an ice bath and place it near the stove.

3) Bring eight ounces of unsalted butter to room temperature, then mix with 1/2 cup of dark brown sugar, 1/4 cup heavy cream, and 1/4 cup Karo syrup. Place the mixture in a heavy-bottom saucepan and cook over high heat until the temperature reaches 252°F (use a candy thermometer to check temps).

4) Immediately remove the pot from heat and place it in the ice bath. Make sure no water comes into contact with the caramel as you stir the mixture into a smooth, glossy mass. Once this consistency is achieved, remove the pan from the ice bath and dry it completely.

5) Pour the caramel onto the parchment-lined baking sheet and allow it to come to room temperature. (This will take about an hour.)

6) Using a lightly buttered chef’s knife, cut the caramel into 1½- by 1½-inch squares, and place on a fresh parchment-lined baking sheet.

7) Temper two pounds of good-quality dark chocolate (find recipe at charlestonmag.com/cacao).

8) Once the chocolate cools to 87°F, use a fork to dip four to six caramel pieces into the chocolate. Then remove as much extra residual chocolate from the caramel as possible to create a smooth, clean candy.

9) Return the dipped caramel to the baking sheet and sprinkle it with sea salt while the chocolate is still setting. Repeat until all caramels have been dipped.

10) Store the finished candies in an airtight container, layering with parchment or waxed paper. They’ll keep for seven to 10 days; do not refrigerate.

Want more genius ideas for giving? Click here for our 2014 gift guide.