**This post was originally published on HonestCooking.com, a brand new online food magazine, for which I am a contributor. The website launched in March, and it is a great new resource for recipes, travel, restaurant reviews and foodie opinion pieces. Check it out here!**
Did you know that there is a week in March that has been officially be declared ‘American Chocolate Week’? Nope, neither did I! What does American Chocolate Week mean? I have no clue, but that fact however, did not stop me from celebrating it to its full extent. I am a sucker for holidays, even ones that are probably made up by Hallmark and advertising firms.
In other words, I got my chocolate on. Actually, I got my chocolate and caramel on. I wonder if there is an American Caramel Week. If there isn’t, there should be. I need to look into that.
A quick Google search revealed all kinds of yummy (albeit ridiculous) holidays coming up in May including National Beer Week, National Cheese Soufflé Day, National Eat What You Want Day, and National Truffle Day. National Truffle Day happens to land on my birthday, so I may have to take advantage of that one, both the sweet and savory versions.
Back to the chocolate: a friend’s baby shower was the perfect event to present chocolate goodies in all their glory. I mean, I have never met a pregnant woman that isn’t up for a little (or a lot) of chocolate. Salted chocolate-covered caramels and a chocolate tart with a hazelnut banana caramel filling satisfied all the lovely ladies at the shower, and made the mom-to-be a very happy camper.
First up, salted, chocolate-covered caramels (stay tuned for the chocolate-banana-caramel tart, we need to pace ourselves here!)
Salted Chocolate-Covered Caramels
makes about 60-80 caramels
The cook times here are approximate, you should rely on your candy thermometer to tell you when it is done, not the number of minutes it has been cooking.
180 ml cream
1 teaspoon high quality vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon salt
170 grams light corn syrup
192 grams sugar
60 grams butter
300 grams dark chocolate
coarse sea salt crystals for garnish
Line a square baking dish with tin foil and mist lightly with a non-stick cooking spray.
In a small saucepan, combine the cream, half of the butter, and the salt over medium heat, just until it comes to a boil. Remove from heat, stir in the vanilla, and cover to keep warm.
In a medium saucepan, combine the corn syrup and sugar and cook over medium heat until the sugar has melted and come to a boil. Continue cooking until the mixture reaches 155°C on a candy thermometer.
Remove from heat and carefully and quickly add the cream mixture. It will bubble up quite a bit when added, this is normal. Return pan back to heat, and over medium-high heat, bring the caramel up to 120°C (248°F), or firm ball stage.
Remove from heat, quickly stir in the remaining butter, and pour into your prepared baking dish. Let the caramel rest until completely cool or you can place it in the refrigerator to speed the process. Gently remove caramel from baking dish and peel off the tin foil. Cut into 1 inch squares.
Melt the chocolate in a glass bowl over a pot of gently simmering water. Dip the chocolates one by one into the chocolate and place on a piece of wax paper or parchment paper. While they are still a bit wet, sprinkle on a few grains of sea salt, and if you like, some adorable little edible glitter stars.