lavender fleur de sel caramels

OK, I have to admit a few things here. I’m a little bit done with food. I’ve been cooking some, eating a lot, and I’m starting not to feel so hungry. I’ve got a bunch more cooking to do this week though, so I’m working on getting my appetite back.
My children, however, are having no problem with their appetites. They are asking for food constantly. And they are so fixated on sweets that I’m starting to become a genius with the bribes. So much so that sometimes they really don’t make any sense.
Example: Last night Sadie says, “Mom, can I have more asparagus?”
And I snap back, “Not until you finish your rice.”
OK, who exactly is this person speaking out of my mouth? And why is she withholding vegetables to prove a point? And exactly what point is that?
Yes, I am losing it for good.
Anyway, I made some caramels. I don’t really like caramels, but these are pretty good and they make pretty gifts. This is a recipe from the illustrious Alice Medrich, with my lavender obsession mixed in. It was definitely my most successful caramel experience yet, with the exception of the cutting step. The things just shattered under the knife, as you can see below in the photo.

Lavender Fleur de Sel Caramels
adapted from Alice Medrich’s Pure Dessert

Ingredients
1 cup golden syrup (NOT corn syrup, you can get this in most higher end grocery stores)
2 cups sugar
3/8 teaspoon fine sea salt, preferably fleur de sel
2 cups heavy cream
3 tablespoons lavender flowers
1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
3 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into chunks, softened

Equipment
A 9-inch square baking pan
Candy thermometer

Procedure

Add the lavender to the cream and let sit.

Line the bottom and sides of the baking pan with aluminum foil and grease the foil. Combine the golden syrup, sugar, and salt in a heavy 3-quart saucepan and cook over medium heat, stirring with a silicone spatula or wooden spoon, until the mixture begins to simmer around the edges. Wash the sugar and syrup from the sides of the pan with a pastry brush dipped in water. Cover and cook for about 3 minutes. (Meanwhile, rinse the spatula or spoon before using it again later.) Uncover the pan and wash down the sides once more. Attach the candy thermometer to the pan, without letting it touch the bottom of the pan, and cook, uncovered (without stirring) until the mixture reaches 305°F.

Meanwhile, put the lavender and cream in a small saucepan and heat until tiny bubbles form around the edges of the pan. Turn off the heat and cover the pan to keep the cream hot.

When the sugar mixture reaches 305°F, turn off the heat and stir in the butter chunks. Gradually stir in the hot cream, pouring it through a strainer to separate the lavender; it will bubble up and steam dramatically, so be careful. Turn the burner back on and adjust it so that the mixture boils energetically but not violently. Stir until any thickened syrup at the bottom of the pan is dissolved and the mixture is smooth. Continue to cook, stirring occasionally, to about 245°F. Then cook, stirring constantly, to 260°f for soft, chewy caramels or 265°F; for firmer chewy caramels.

Remove the pan from the heat and stir in the vanilla extract. Pour the caramel into the lined pan. Let set for 4 to 5 hours, or overnight until firm.

Lift the pan liner from the pan and invert the sheet of caramel onto a sheet of parchment paper. Peel off the liner. Sprinkle the fleur de sel onto both sides of the sheet, pressing it into the caramel.

Cut the caramels with an oiled knife. Wrap each caramel individually in wax paper or cellophane.


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