The weather here is still very unseasonably warm at over 60 degrees. Every day when I wake up and take the dogs outside I am hesitant and don't grab my coat, but pleasantly surprised when my gamble pays off. The leaves on a third of our trees are completely gone, and a few green trees and scattered orange ones right next to each other.
One of the upgrades of the morning would be the addition of this fall feeling maple syrup to my coffee. Only real maple will do, and this one from the Husdon Valley is one of my favorites. I was introduced to it by the makers of The Hello Sessions. A creatives conference I went to in Portland last month. I met a lot of inspiring, funny, and encouraging people there, and this is just one little reminder of the long week across the country.
Portland brought back a lot of memories and feelings for me, but one of the most surprising was that I didn't miss living there. For me, Portland was a place of transition and was never fully intending on staying there, and I get the same feeling of everyone there, that for them it is the same. Nearly everyone had recently come to Portland or was planning on leaving in the near future. It reminds me of a modern day gold rush, with people flooding a city believing it will change their lives and they'll be better for it, but not everyone gets what they come for, and the people on the outside still believe it has magical powers.
That's not to say I don't love it. But I love the midwest more. And I never thought I'd say that.
Salted chewy caramels are truly one of life's simple pleasures. They've stood the test of time, and have come back, in a huge way. Caramel being one of my favorite flavors and a favorite thing to make, I thought i'd share with you just how simple it is, with a little patience, and good instincts you can make perfect caramels every time.
One of the best things to remember is that when there are very few ingredients, they really count. For this recipe try to find the best sugar, honey, butter and cream and salt. I use cane sugar, Ludlow cream, Plugra butter, raw honey from Old Town Flowers, and flaked sea salt from Jacobsen, I'll do another post on them soon.
Sea Salt Caramels
4 c sugar
2 Tablespoons honey
1/2 cup water
1/2 pound butter- room temperature
2 cup cream
1 Tablespoon salt
1 Tablespoon vanilla
Bring sugar, honey and water into a large and very clean pot. Once you have stirred them together and turned the heat on, do not stir, swish, or put anything at all into the pot until the sugar has caramelized or you may crystallize your sugar mixture. Turn heat on high and keep a close range for the next 10-15 minutes.
You're watching for a caramel color- too light and your caramels will lack a deep flavor, too dark and it will taste acrid. This is the part where good instincts, and sometimes plain 'ol luck comes in. In time you will know exactly what you're looking for, but for this first time, it is probably a good idea to turn off the heat a little early. If you want to use a candy thermometer, the heat should reach around 317 degrees.
Once you have reached your desired temperature/color, turn the heat off ( you'll need to move very quickly at this point). Add your butter- be very careful not to splash- and use a wooden spoon so that it cannot melt. Once it has stopped bubbling, slowly add in your cream and stir. Once you have brought it together, add your vanilla and salt. Turn the heat back to medium low- keep your thermometer inside- and stir occasionally until it reaches 248 degrees, no more, no less.
Once it has reached 248 degrees- turn off heat and pour it into a heat proof pan that you have sprayed some non-stick oil into. Let cool at room temperature and refrigerate overnight.
Pull out your block of caramel and bring to room temperature before cutting with a knife into small cubes. If it is too hard to cut- just wait longer. Too soft? Throw it back into the fridge for a bit.