Our neighbors to the south of us are a quiet couple with two young kids and a puppy. We never hear a peep from their babies, and their dog makes the funniest howling noises when she gets lonely (or wants food, I presume). I feel for her, she’s been bested by the babies. Our dog, and their dog, chat through the fence every once in a while.
Every Christmas, I take them a little homemade treat. This year was persimmon bourbon bread. One random week in February they returned the favor and brought over some homemade caramels. They came to the door carrying their oldest daughter, and proudly announced that they had been making homemade candy, and they had brought some over to share. Golden brown caramels were wrapped in little wax paper wrappers. I was so excited to taste them I could barely wait until after dinner. They were soft and chewy. So fresh. But the best thing was when you got to the middle there was a little crunch of sea salt. So simple and so delicious. They were gone in no time, leaving me to howl with their puppy for more.
How to be Neighborly: A little salt can make things ever so sweet.
- 3 Tbsp water
- ¼ c light corn syrup
- 1 c sugar
- ¼ tsp vanilla paste (or extract, if you can’t find paste)
- 1 stick butter, melted
- ½ c heavy cream
- ¼ tsp salt
- Sea Salt for sprinkling
Prepare a small baking dish with parchment paper sprayed with oil.
In a heavy bottomed pot, combine water, corn syrup, sugar and vanilla. Stir to moisten the sugar, being careful not to get sugar on the sides of the pot. Heat the sugar mix over medium high heat for about 5 minutes, until it reaches 320 degrees, or the sides begin to turn amber brown. Don’t stir it!!!
While the sugar is boiling, melt the butter in the microwave, and add the cream and salt and heat for 30 seconds to warm the cream. When the sugar reaches 320 degrees, pour half the cream mixture into the pan. It will boil violently. Stir with a silicon spatula, being careful not to burn your hand in the steam. After about a minute, add the remaining cream and stir. Cook the mixture over medium high heat for an additional 3-5 minutes until it reaches 240 degrees. Pour into the parchment paper oiled dish. Sprinkle with Sea Salt. Place in the refrigerator to cool (4 hours), or the freezer (1 hr). Cut into to squares and wrap in wax paper. Makes about 30 caramels.