The great people of archiv/e magazine asked me to be part of their advent calendar this year and suggest a gift to their readers. I did not want to recommend anything you can easily buy in a store – as Christmas eve draws nearer, city centres get more crowded and postal services are already overstrained, so I don’t want to be responsible for you to have to rush to some store to find a random gift or to desperately check delivery statuses online every ten minutes until Christmas is over.
So grab an apron and get cooking – a nice bag of fleur de sel caramels is what you will give to your distant aunt or girlfriend’s sister this year.
What you need
(For about 12-16 caramels)
- 1 1/2 cups sugar
- 1/4 cup golden syrup or molasses
- 1/2 cup water
- 1 1/2 cups heavy cream
- 5 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 1 teaspoon fleur de sel, plus extra for sprinkling
- 1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- Parchment paper or wax paper, for wrapping
- Good music to get you into candy making mood, for example Sufjan Steven’s Christmas Songs
Line an 7cm square baking pan with parchment paper – take a little extra paper and allow it to drape over 2 sides of the pan. Brush the paper lightly with oil.
Combine the sugar, molasses or golden syrup and 1/2 water in a deep saucepan or pot and bring the mixture to a boil over medium heat. Boil until the caramel is a warm golden brown color. Swirl the pan to mix, don’t stir. You will have to guard the caramel mixture carefully, it will burn quickly.
In the meantime, mix the cream, butter and one teaspoon flour de sel in a small pan and bring to a simmer over medium heat. Remove from the stove and keep it warm.
As soon as your the caramel mixture reaches the right color, very slowly add your cream mixture – keep stirring while doing so and keep attention: it will boil up violently.
Use a wooden spoon to stir in the vanilla and cook the mixture over medium heat for 5 – 10 minutes. You can use a candy thermometer to check the heat, when your mixture reaches 120°C start pouring the caramel into the baking pan that you lined with parchment paper. Be careful, the mixture is very hot!
Congratulations –you just made caramel!
Refrigerate the caramel until firm. As soon as this happened, take the caramel from the pan using the parchment paper and put it onto a cutting board. Roll it up tightly until you reach half of the sheet. Cut the sheet across and roll the second half up tightly. Sprinkle your caramel logs lightly with fleur de sel and cut each log in pieces of the same size.
Wrap each caramel into fitting pieces of parchment or wax paper. You can easily store the caramels in the fridge or at room temperature.
To make the gift extra nice, create a hand written label for the caramel and put them into a paper or cellophane bag.
About archiv/e magazine
Archiv/e Magazin is an independent publication that dedicates each issue to a blog. The magazines aims at preserving selected contents from that blog and make them available in printed form. They published their first issue back in September.
If you are curious about archiv/e – or if the Fleur de Sel Caramel idea did not convince you and you are still on the look-out for a Christmas present, visit their online shop, enter the code “adventsarchive” and receive 15% off until Christmas. Yay!