The last two weeks have been absolute bliss: a much-needed vacation, without too much worky work, and with lots of time to do just what I wanted to do when I wanted to do it. That has meant primarily two things: spending time with my sisters, and playing around with new confections.
Caramel and chocolate are key features of most anything I make (not counting the 3-year-long marshmallow phase), so finding new recipes that utilize those confectionery resources is always a treat. My go-to recipe for caramels has been a wonderful salted cream caramel with which I fill my very favorite mold:
I used to look for reasons to make these. They are the kind of caramels that enforce a moment of silence on those who partake of them. In fact, I have been known to bring a supply of them to the office with me, as they are sometimes the only way to quiet restive colleagues, if only for a moment. Molded bonbons, particularly with such a fluid filling, can be a bit tricky for an amateur like me, so I have been looking for a more solid caramel of equal lusciousness that I could cut and dip. Try as I might, I could not find a suitable substitute – too sticky, too runny, flavor not robust enough – nothing even came close to that stop-you-in-your tracks caramel flavor and silky texture.
Enter David Lebovitz (not in person, or anything; I’m not that lucky). More precisely, enter his salted butter caramel recipe. I made it yesterday, complete with the holy trinity of risky moves (brand new recipe; unfamiliar ingredient – plugra, which I had never used and which I bought just for the occasion; and new kitchen appliance – induction burner). The result? I’d say pretty good: Mary came over for a supper of slow-cooked beef minestrone and whole-grain toasts with herb butter and parmesan, and we tried the barely-set caramel for dessert. Mary fell into a sort of fugue state; the only words she could muster for a few moments were, “These are my new best friend…”
I totally forgot to take any pictures of the process or the pre-finished product, but I did get these:
They are the perfect caramel – buttery, salty, burnt-sugary, a little gooey, but not at all stick-in-your-teethy. We’ll see if they have the same silence-inducing effect when I bring them into the office for post-vacation re-entry day on Tuesday…