GW2 Salted Butter and Arabian Coffee Spice Caramels

IMG_1790After being reminded of the consequences (cleaning up the last remaining chocolate and caramel droplets from all available surfaces of my kitchen and … how the hell did it get up there? … with a nasty burn from the last drop of caramel I scraped out of the pan onto my hand really, really bites) of my sweets and chocolates marathon during the last couple of days in order to finish all the easter chocolates boxes, I decided to venture outside my planned order and post another treat off the easter menu. So here’s the Easter Eggstravaganza, Part 2!

The general idea of making chewy caramel bonbons again after a long time was born from a more or less failed attempt at using the GW2 caramel recipe for a dessert involving a salted caramel butterscotch sauce. The sauce came out too thick for what I had in mind, but too soft to be turned into caramel bonbons. Hmmm… caramel bonbons…. there’s an idea! Of course I went ahead and made caramels for this batch of big-occasion sweets boxes. Here goes, this:

Caramel

…motivated me to come up with these salted butter caramels and a second version, scented with arabian coffee spice.

The Salted Butter Caramels (50)
200g Double Cream (a variety of cream with a fat content of 35% or higher)
190g 3,5% Milk
190g Fine-grained white Caster Sugar
185g Liquid Glucose
150g Butter
5g Salt
Alt: 3g Arabian Coffee Spice (see below) and 2g Salt

Like always – when it comes to sweets and chocolates – I’m measuring all ingredients in grams. In my experience this extra bit of control makes the outcome of the recipes more predictable, limiting frustrating fails to a minimum.

Getting my hands on liquid glucose has, yet again, proven to be a whole lot harder than the presence of so many patisserie and dessert specialized stores around would suggest. The delivery time estimated by several online stores didn’t agree with my plans, so I MacGyvered myself a sugar syrup to replace it with – this one doesn’t work as replacement for every recipe involving liquid glucose, but in this case I actually prefer using this one.

To replace 100g liquid glucose:
64g Crystalline Glucose, you’ll find this in every supermarket with all the other sugars
36g Tap Water

1) Add both water and glucose to a small pot and bring the mixture to a rapid boil.
2) The glucose should dissolve quickly – if it doesn’t, give the pot a light swirl.
3) Pour the resulting syrup into a heat resistant container and take its weight again while it’s still hot. If it lost some weight, stir in warm water until you’re at 100g again.
4) In case the liquid takes on a yellow or reddish color, don’t worry. The glucose you’ve bought probably contains additional vitamins or minerals. It doesn’t affect the syrup in any other way.

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Making the Salted Butter Caramels
1) Line a brownie tin with baking parchment and set it aside for later.
2) Pour the milk into a heavy-based pan and set it on medium-high heat, then add the sugar, glucose, butter and salt.
3) After about 2 minutes, once the liquid had a chance to warm up, start stirring occasionally with a wooden spoon until the sugar is completely dissolved and the resulting syrup clear.
4) Once the temperature rises to about 100°C pick up a whisk and start stirring constantly to keep it from splitting. If you don’t have a sugar thermometer or a meat probe that goes up to 200°C at your disposal like me, you’ll need to go by sight and sound. For me personally that method works better than sticking to temperatures anyways, but just in case this is your first batch of caramels, going by temperature helps introducing you to the mysterious ways of the sugar.
5) The caramel will start changing color to a warm golden brown and thicken up as you’re whisking away.
6) Set a small pot with the cream on low heat to lightly warm it.
7) The temperature of the caramel should be up at 160°C by now. If you’re not using a thermometer to take the exact temperature you can go by the sound of the caramel at this point: The rising bubbles will start making wet noises, as if you were slowly moving your hand through bath foam once the caramel reaches 110°C-130°C. This noise should be fading after a couple of minutes, at which point I would advise you to wear gloves or cover your whisking hand with a kitchen towel – the bubbles will be bursting more forcefully and might spit hot sugar droplets at you. This phase lasts from around 140°C up to 160°C.
8) Once it takes the now – hopefully – thick and creamy caramel a bit to seep back into the lines on the bottom of the pan your whisk leaves behind, take its temperature again.
9) Around 170°C take it off the heat and let it sit undisturbed for about a minute.
10) Add the cream to the caramel in thirds, whisking it in until its evenly distributed each time; take some extra care with this after the last glug of cream went in. The mixture should be glossy, creamy and thick enough to come off your whisk or a spoon in sheets at this point.
11) Pour the caramel into the lined brownie tin and tap it on a hard surface to remove the bubbles trapped inside.
12) Let the caramel cool down at room temperature for 2-3 hours, then cover the top with a sheet of baking parchment fitted to the surface of the caramel. Leave it to set for anouther 12-14 hours, then cut them into cubes or rectangles.
13) If it’s too soft – if the surface still gives after the initial cooling down – you can re-heat it and simmer it down some more while constantly stirring it, just don’t set it on high heat, doing that might cause it to split.

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The Arabian Coffee Spice Caramels
The ingredients, measurements and the procedure are exactly the same as the recipe above – with the exception of 3g of the 5g salt being replaced with 3g arabian coffee spice. It doesn’t seem like a lot of spice, but the spice blend really packs a punch, especially since it’s intensified by the sugar and fat content of the caramels. This blend of spices comes in a world of varieties, sometimes overwhelming on the cardamom side of things, sometimes as a sugar blend. I used to have a jar full of a storebought arabian coffee spice blend in my spice rack but that particular brand has changed its composition a while back, now going really heavy, too heavy for my taste, on the vanilla and cloves. For the time being I’m using my own blend starting with a base recreated from what I was able to detect in the remains of the original blend. As with all spice blends the intensity of this mix depends on the quality and intensity of each and every ingredient, so there’s always room for adjustments. This is a good thing though, as it allows you to tweak the blend in question to suit your personal taste. This is what I start with for the coffee spice:

The Arabian Coffee Spice
2 Tsp Ground Green Cardamom
1 Tsp Ground Cinnamon
½ Tsp Ground Cloves
¼ Tsp Ground Allspice
1 Pinch of finely ground Black Pepper
1 Pinch of freshly grated Nutmeg
1 Pinch of dried Vanilla Seeds
1 Pinch of Salt
Opt: 1 Pinch of dried and ground Ginger

1) Usually I would advise you to start with the raw materials, like whole cloves, peppercorns and allspice berries, toasting them to release their essential oils (and then grinding them in a pestle and mortar). In this particular case, while it wouldn’t really be a complete waste of time, the process of releasing the oils takes place while the spices are in the caramel already, thereby infusing the caramel directly, so using ground spices makes more sense.
2) Carefully stir all of the spices together until well combined.
3) Follow the recipe for the Salted Butter Caramels above, but replace 3g of the 5g of salt added to the milk at the beginning with 3g of the coffee spice.

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I hope you enjoy these!

Just one last thing… When you’re making them, don’t follow me in my bad-kitchen-karma footsteps – don’t pull off a little silly I-didn’t-burn-myself-haha-jig before you’ve set everything safely aside…

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