Today was an amazing Fall day. I slept in, made my weekly trip to the store where my second favorite cheese was on sale, (Oh how I miss you Tillamook extra sharp! Vermont is all about the Cabot, which is where my second favorite comes in…), and then spent most of the afternoon outside.
I biked down to the Magic Hat Artifactory where they were having an “Octoberfeast” fundraiser for the food bank. I was very impressed with my ability to not get lost (or even have to stop and consult my phone) on the way there. I was equally impressed with the spread of samples at the festival. Nothing like live music, beer and cider, and a bunch of good drinking snacks– popcorn, chips, bagels, even some ravioli and delicious peanut butter. Here I am enjoying my samples:
Back at home baking was on my mind. I’d been thinking of caramels for a while, since I had some leftover cream from my chocolate bourbon mousse. My original thought was to do an apple cider caramel, but I’m going to use my cider to do mini donuts instead later this week. I also thought about chai caramels, but I’ve made those before too. So my other favorite tea, Earl Grey, stepped in.
I followed the recipe from “Oh, So Civilized” here: http://www.ohhowcivilized.com/blog/2013/1/22/how-to-make-earl-grey-salted-caramels-step-by-step-recipe.html. I used a 9×13 pan instead, but I think next time I’d go for a 8 or 9 in square pan. I like my caramels more cubed than rectangular, and it felt like my pan was too big. The recipe lists a 12×12 pan, but that would be even larger! I also added the zest from half an orange right before I poured the caramels into the pan.
The original recipe has tons of great pictures, but I’ll share my own below.
I got pretty serious about zesting that orange. I used a paring knife to remove the skin and then used kitchen shears to cut it into thin strips and then into smaller pieces. Doing it this way lets more of those yummy oils stay in the zest, instead of ending up on your grater. Try it!
Look at that beautiful zest!
I brewed the tea in a bag in the cream instead of leaving the leaves loose and then having to filter them. I probably should have put the leaves in a few separate bags for increased surface area. But my science brain let me down by only thinking of that AFTER they were in the pot.
I think this is also the first caramel recipe I’ve made (sample size= 4 or 5) where you heat the sugar separately from the cream first. Warning– sugar doesn’t take very long to heat up! My mixture was ready for the next step almost before I had the tea ready!
You can see below I added the tea mixture in a bit of a hurry and a few stray leaves found their way into the caramel. No big deal, I kind of liked the look of them!
Adding the orange zest right at the end helped keep the flavor from cooking out. Still, when I added it to the hot caramel you could hear the oils in the orange peel start to vaporize a little, releasing all that yummy flavor.
I highly recommend following the advice in the original recipe to sprinkle some sea salt onto the caramels before they fully set. I was worried it might be too many competing flavors, but the salt highlights the creamy tea and balances the acid from the orange. The result is like a perfect latte with a refreshing hit of citrus. I bet these would be amazing with a nice hot cup of tea!
I wrapped them all up and I imagine I’ll drop them in the office on Monday. We will see how long they last! I might just have to make these again as part of my holiday baking. I just can’t decide– I love all my caramel recipes!