Sunday, December 19, 2010

Fleur de Sel Caramels

The finished caramels: one with salt and one without.
Candy making and baking are basically chemistry. They require following recipes and measuring ingredients (which is sometimes difficult for me - I like to improvise). Having written that, I have always been comfortable with baking and I will improvise with baking. But candy making not so much. Maybe it is the hot boiling liquids which could result in some nasty burns. Maybe it is the amount of time one spends stirring. But the results are so good that I am willing to give candy making a try. I have decided to start my foray into candy making with caramels. Full disclosure- we have made caramels before (we are crazy about caramels) so we are taking baby steps. This caramel recipe is spectacular--it makes melt in your mouth caramels.  It uses only a couple of ingredients-- so quality counts (I have notes below on two of the ingredients).

The different crystal sizes- Kosher, fleur de sel, and table salt.
Fleur de Sel

Fleur de Sel means "flower of salt". It is hand harvested sea salt, collected by scraping the top layer of salt before it sinks to the bottom of large salt pans. It is expensive (I only brought about a tablespoon for this recipe-- Whole Foods sells it by the ounce). (I did not buy the really expensive salt- hand harvested off of the coast of Brittany). It is a "wetter" salt and has a crystal size that is much larger than table salt but smaller than Kosher salt. Good substitutes would be Flor de sal, Maldon Sea Salt Flakes, and Cyprus Sea Salt Flakes. In a pinch, I think you could use Kosher salt. For an interesting article on salt tasting please see:


Years ago I was introduced to Mexican vanilla and fell in love. I was careful to use the good vanilla only for special recipes. Then I realized that the good vanilla was one of the ways I made the recipe special. So I did some research and food out that making your own vanilla was really easy and the results were great. Now we use the good vanilla for every recipe. To make your own vanilla- buy a bottle of vodka and add two to three vanilla beans cut down the middle to the vodka. Every week shake the bottle and in two months you have a big bottle of great vanilla. I keep the beans in the vodka and it improves over time. That is all there is to it. I use the same amount of homemade vanilla as store bought vanilla in my cooking.


2 Cups (500 ml) Heavy Whipping Cream10 Tbsp of Unsalted Butter, cut into pieces
2 Tsp Fleur de Sel
3 Cups (675 g) of Granulated Sugar
1/2 Cup (125 ml) of Light Corn Syrup
1/2 Cup (125 ml) of Water
1 Tsp of Vanilla

Line 9 by 13 (23 cm by 33 cm) baking pan with parchment and lightly oil the paper (I like to lightly oil both sides so the parchment will stick to the pan as well). I also put all of the ingredients in the sauce pans (except for the vanilla so they are ready to go).

Everything is prepped and ready to go.
 In a small sauce pan bring the cream, butter and salt to a boil and set aside.

I cut the butter into tablespoon-size pieces.
The sugar mixture starts out clear
In a large saucepan bring the sugar, corn syrup and water to a boil. Stir until sugar is dissolved then boil while swirling (not stirring) until the mixture is a light caramel color. (It feels like this step takes forever).

After the sugar mixture reaches a caramel color, add the cream
CAREFULLY stir in the cream mixture (it will boil violently). Next stir in the vanilla.  Simmer the mixture, stirring frequently until the camel registers 248 F/ 120 C on a candy thermometer. (High attitude: for every 1,000 feet/300 meters above sea level, subtract 2 F/1 C from the desired temperature).
The reaction after adding the cream mixture- Careful- it gives off a lot of steam
Boiling mixture

Carefully pour the caramel mixture into the prepared pan and cool until the caramels come to room temperature. Turn the caramels over onto wax paper and remove the parchment from the back of the caramels. Cut the caramels into bite size pieces and wrap in wax paper. We sprinkled 1/3 with fleur de sel, 1/3 we left plain, and 1/3 we dipped in chocolate. 
The caramels being poured into the prepared pan

More full disclosure- I reviewed and modified the following recipes to end up with the recipe above-- Ina Garten's recipe: and Epicurious's recipe:

The bottom line: Will we make these again? Yes, yes we will. Based on how many we eat, we probably shouldn't. They are so so good. 


  1. The caramels are yummy I love them sooo much and I hope you love them as much I do!!!!

  2. Those caramels are wonderful! Here in México we call them "jamoncillos" and are so delicious! I always buy some at casa Adelita when I'm passing by because they are simply irresistible!