A few weeks ago I was contacted by The East India Company‘s Fine Foods department (yes, it’s the very same one established in 1600, read more about the modern EIC on their website). They were wondering if I would like to try one of their products.
My answer to free baking supplies will pretty much always be some version of, “hells yeah! …please.”
Anyway, I agreed and a few days ago I received a package containing some of their Demerara Sugar.
Demerara is a coarse, dry, raw cane sugar. This variety is particularly dark with a heady, molasses aroma. The smell coming from that bubbling pot of caramel was absolutely intoxicating–dark molasses, butter, salt, and a little vanilla…oh, it was heaven.
I decided to use all of the sugar all at once. I wanted to really let the sugar shine as the star ingredient. I make these caramels all the time for different occasions and gifts. They are ALWAYS well received. There are few people in my life that will turn away a caramel, no less a salty, buttery version. I just love the deep color that the dark sugar lent the candies in contrast with flaky, white sea salt. Deep color (especially with caramels) usually translates as deep flavor and in this case…it was definitely true. These caramels have a dark, almost burnt (but not scorched!) flavor that is just so addicting…not to mention that perfect crunch and flavor of the sea salt.
Sugar burns are a serious bummer. So, I understand the aversion some may have to boiling molten hot liquids, and then mixing in cream and butter that causes the whole thing to hiss and bubble up furiously.
It’s scary. I totally get it. But, you should make these, so here are some tips.
*I always make sure to use a large saucepan, one with sides that only allow the sugar syrup to reach a 1/4 of the way up. This is to ensure that I won’t have caramel lava overflowing from my pan, scorching me and destroying my stove.
*I also use a long wooden spoon and wear an oven mitt or wrap a dish towel around my stirring hand…cause the steam that is created from the cream hitting the hot sugar is SO SUPER HOT. No lie.
Demerara Salted Butter Caramels
Adapted from David Leibovitz
I usually make these with regular, granulated sugar…the color is not quite as dark, but I do try to make sure the allow the syrup to caramelize nicely. Whatever sugar you use, keep in mind that dark caramel = amazing flavor. Also, whatever you do, DO NOT skip the salt. Just don’t. Please.
In place of corn syrup I use Golden Syrup (I used Lyle’s)….I love it. I have also used honey with great success, but note that honey will impart it’s own flavor.
3/4 cup heavy cream
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
heaping 1/2 teaspoon sea salt, + 1/4 teaspoon (for sprinkling)
1/2 cup corn syrup, golden syrup, or honey
1 cup Demerara Sugar
1/4 cup water
4 tablespoons salted butter, divided
Line a 8-inch square pan with foil or parchment, leaving and overhang. Spray with cooking spray and set aside.
In a small saucepan, heat cream, 2 tablespoons of the butter, salt, and vanilla, until hot and butter is melted. Set aside.
In a large saucepan (David suggests 4qt capacity) fitted with a candy thermometer, heat sugar, water, and syrup over medium high heat. Stir gently to make sure sugar melts smoothly and completely. Once everything has melted together, avoid stirring the syrup…you can swirl the pan to avoid hot spots.
Cook the syrup until it reaches 310F.
Remove from heat and pour in warmed cream mixture and stir until smooth. Return pan back to heat and cook caramel until the thermometer reads 260F.
Remove from heat and immediately stir in remaining butter. Pour hot caramel into prepared pan and sprinkle with remaining salt. Allow to cool completely and cut into pieces, OR allow to cool partially–until it is cool but still pliable. At this point I like to remove the caramel sheet from the pan and cut it in half, I then roll each piece lengthwise into a log, press more flaky salt onto the top, and allow to cool completely and settle before cutting. I saw Ina Garten do this once and I love the shape of the settled and sliced logs.
You can wrap each caramel individually with parchment paper or store in an airtight container. I like to space them out evenly if I am not wrapping them individually, or they will stick together like no other. The caramels will keep for a few weeks if stored properly.