I’m BIG on Christmas. I have about 9 Christmas jumpers waiting patiently in my wardrobe until its acceptable to wear them and I had my first Christmas sandwich in October… But one of my favourite festive activities in the run up to the big day is making edible gifts. And salted caramels always feature heavily.
I think a handmade gift is such a lovely thing to treasure, and if you’re a bit strapped for cash (which who isn’t around this time?!) its also really handy as you seem so thoughtful without making yourself bankrupt in the process. Go you!
Salted caramels especially always go down a treat. I mean, who can resist the salty sweet combination? Definitely not me!
Now I know salted caramels can seem a little intimidating, and you do need to be prepared before you start with all your ingredients measured and ready. But! They really are so achievable, and once you’ve mastered the basics you can begin experimenting with different flavours. I’ve made chai-tea caramels before, and tried passion fruit caramels in Paris this year that I’d love to recreate. So please don’t be put off by the thought of boiling hot sugar… just keep calm and carry on.
You will need a candy thermometer for this, as you need to heat the sugar to an exact temperature to ensure they are set but still chewy. I have a Salter digital thermometer and its honestly the best I’ve tried. It was under £15 and can also be used as a meat probe, which also comes in really handy at Christmas time!
The biggest problem I think people have with making caramel is that they can’t resist stirring the pan, which results in crystallised sugar and a big old mess. RESIST the wooden spoon! Honestly, your sugar is fine sat there by itself with only a few swirls of the pan every now and then. If you know there are major heat spots on your hob, you can turn the pan every now and then to distribute the heat more evenly. Just don’t stir it!
Whilst your sugar is dissolving you need to be gently warming the double cream, butter and sea salt flakes in a small pan. Then as soon as the caramelised sugar has turned a warm golden brown colour you need to (slowly!) pour the cream mixture in. I say slowly, as it will boil up at this point so please be careful!
Now is your exciting chance to use your wooden spoon that I know you’ve been itching to get out! Stir in your vanilla and then cook for 5-10 minutes until you reach 120C on a candy thermometer. This is extremely hot (obvs!) so again, please be careful! As soon as it reaches 120C you need to pour it into a prepared pan – see what I mean about needing to be organised?
Then you can pop it in the fridge to set, and await praise from your friends and family over your culinary delights!
Once they were cool, I wrapped my salted caramels up in parchment paper and then popped them in brown paper bags to give them a cute old-fashioned sweet feel. You could buy festive sweet wrappers and bags if you really wanted to go to town though!
I hope that’s enticed you to try making salted caramels gifts for Christmas, or just for yourself!
P.S. Apologies for the slightly sporadic posting! I’m currently moving flats which has taken over my life. Hopefully I’ll be back to Sunday posting soon 🙂