It's the final countdown - the home stretch! Are you ready!? No? Ha - well, neither are we! Almost, but not quite. With all of the excitement around these parts over the past few weeks, I still have a few loose ends to tie up, or in this case, twist up. Inspired by a booming resurrection of homemade sweets in Brooklyn, I decided to conquer my fear of boiling lava-like sugar (lets face it - EVERYONE has a horror story) and try my hand at candy making. Even if it had been borderline harrowing, the swoon inducing results by themselves would have been enough for me to try to convince you to give it a try, but seeing as it actually turned out to be easy and scare-free, you officially have no excuse not to indulge - especially if you're running short on your gift list. You can do it!
I tested out a recipe for Goat Butter and Honey Caramels from candy mistress Beth Kimmerle and also created one of my own, Gingerbread Stout. Both were delicious and I'm planning on packing up 10 or so of each in little glassine envelopes for gifts. The Gingerbread Stout Caramels were a bit harder, like a sugar daddy, while the Goat Butter and Honey caramels were melt-in-your-mouth soft. Apparently the viscosity of the honey will determine the softness of your caramels in that recipe. If, like me, your caramels come out a bit too soft, you can reheat and add a bit more sugar. Be sure to bring back to 250 before letting set again.
Gingerbread Stout Caramels
3 c. stout beer (I used Brooklyn Brewery Chocolate Stout -mmm mmm)
1 c. white sugar
1 c. light brown sugar
1 stick butter (I used cultured)
1/3 c. heavy cream
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 tsp ground ginger
1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
3/4 tsp ground cinnamon (The kind I use is super strong. You may want to use more if yours is a normal or mild strength)
- Line a 8"x8" baking pan with buttered parchment paper
- boil beer until reduced to 1/3 cup
- remove beer reduction from heat and add sugars, butter, and cream
- bring to a boil and stirring continually, cook until the mixture reaches 248F
- remove from heat and stir in vanilla extract and spices
- pour into pan and let cool for one hour before dusting with sea salt. Let cool overnight before cutting into desired shapes.
- Wrap in either parchment paper or wax paper. I tried both and found wax paper to be MUCH easier. The parchment tears unless you twist veeeeery slowly.