When the baby girl came home on Friday, she asked if we could make Fleur de sel caramels together so she could bring them back with her to school. After we came back from the vet’s Saturday afternoon, I asked her to read the recipe and assemble all the ingredients. Fleur de sel is French sea salt that is raked by hand on the coasts of Brittany and Normandy from the small tidal pools after they have evaporated. The sea salt creates the perfect foil to the caramels sweetness and rich creaminess. The other ingredients are heavy cream, light corn syrup, butter, sugar and water.
In one pan you combine the heavy cream, butter and sea salt until it just comes to a boil. The sugar, water and light corn syrup go in another pan until the sugar dissolves and the color becomes golden caramel. At this moment you pour the cream mixture into the sugar mixture and don’t panic when it erupts into a roiling bubbling concoction. Stirring constantly with a wooden spoon until a candy thermometer registers 248 degrees and you are ready to pour the caramels into a parchment lined pan. The hot caramel goes into the refridgerator for at least four hours, I prefer overnight, when it is ready to be cut up into pieces, I sprinkle some more Fleur de sel over the pieces before wrapping them up in parchment paper.
The baby girl and I had a nice time making these caramels together, it helped take our minds off from the passing of Rex for a few hours. I had a lovely time showing my daughter how to make something that can be a little tricky the first time, showing her the things to look for when judging the heat and the color of the cooked sugar, because that is what caramel is, simply cooked sugar.
I wanted to try to make sure that I taught the most important lesson in cooking with hot sugar, respect the burning capabilities of the sugar. I have scars on my hands from hasty gestures and not paying attention completely on the task at hand. When hot sugar hits your skin it doesn’t roll off, it clings to your skin, burning it until you get ice water on it. I made sure to make that very clear to my daughter. The rest of the pitfalls are just small mistakes that come with learning the art of candy making. The caramel comes out to dark, it doesn’t set right, the caramel is too hard, these mistakes come with the territory and as long as pain isn’t involved, it is a natural learning progression.