Caramel was my nemesis last year. I desperately wanted to make chewy salted caramel candies wrapped in wax paper to give out as gifts. It seemed like every blog I looked at had a recipe up and made it seem easy. Easy I tell you! I thought no biggie, I can do this. Candy making is so going to be my thing. Wrong, wrong, and wrong again. THREE batches and no chewy salted caramel candies wrapped in wax paper to show for it. Instead I had one batch of what-looked-like-a-perfect-caramel-but-quickly-hardened-into-an-inedible-rock, one batch that turned into a crystal like toffee looking thing with a slick of oil on top, and one runny batch. This is when I decided to stop, give up, and cry in a corner... AND THEN I thought this runny caramel tasting muck would be great encased in chocolate. Caramel Cups, if you will. Genius. (Yes, I know I'm not the first person to think of this - but give me a break, I had to make myself feel better after the failed caramel attempts.) Turns out the caramel cups were a big hit last year! So maybe... caramel cups are my thing. You know, the thing that people look forward to every year that is associated with you. Like, "I can't wait for Michelle's caramel cups for Christmas." Yes, I dream big. But how was I going to replicate my failed caramel that I used last year for the caramel cup filling? Dilemma. Well, instead of trying to replicate a failed attempt at caramel, I decided to try to make caramel. Again. Dun, dun, dun.
And guess what? I did it! I celebrated by jumpimg up and down in my kitchen while Penny padding around me nervously wondering what I was so worked up about. Oh, If only she could taste, the chewy, delicious, perfect caramel I made. And so another year of caramel cup gifting is born! AND I'm that much closer to it becoming my thing!
EXTRA special thanks to Not Without Salt's caramel recipe that I used. I really wanted to make her Homemade Twix bars - which is the recipe I took the caramel from - but since I was rushing to do this before leaving for work I decided to see if I could at least get the caramel right first. And oh momma, did I ever get it right. These caramel cups are going to be TO. DIE. FOR.
I dusted them with fine grain sea salt since that is what I had on hand, but I prefer sea salt from a grinder so you get the bigger salty chunks to contrast with the sweetness of the candy.
Michelle's Salted Caramel Cups
Makes approx 24 cups, possibly with caramel leftover
1 - 11.5 ounce bag of Ghirardelli 60% Cacao Bittersweet Baking Chocolate Chips
24 - mini silicone baking cups **
1 tbls. sea salt or fleur de sel
For the Caramel - halved from Not Without Salt's Homemade Twix Bar recipe
1 cup sugar
3 oz light corn syrup
1/4 cup water
1/2 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
1/2 cup heavy cream
1/2 cup sweetened condensed milk
1/8 teaspoon salt
- Place a pot of water to boil on the stove and set a smaller pot in it so that the bottom of the smaller pot is submerged in water. I used a saucepan. Or you could use a bain marie if you have one. Boil the water.
- Meanwhile place the silicone baking cups into a mini muffin tin.
- Once the water has started to boil, place the chocolate chips in the smaller pot. Turn the heat to medium low. Keep an eye on the chocolate as it starts to melt. Mix with a rubber spatula. Once the chocolate is melted, turn the heat to very low. You can leave it like this while you make the caramel, but check to make sure the chocolate is not burning.
- Spoon about a teaspoon of chocolate into the bottom of the silicone cups. Smear chocolate up the sides of the cup. Use enough chocolate so that you will have a strong shell to place your caramel in.
- Once all cups have chocolate in them, place them in the freezer.
- Start your caramel. Combine the sugar, corn syrup, water, and lemon juice in a large saucepan or pot. Stir just to combine. Turn the heat on to medium-high and bring to a boil. Do not stir while boiling. Continue to boil. Keep an eye on it watching for a change in color. The mixture will be very bubbly.
- When it starts to turn golden brown insert a candy thermometer (I used my digital meat thermometer) to check the temperature. When it turns to 300F, remove the pan from heat and let it sit for 1 minute or until the bubbles go down.
- Whisk in the 1/2 cup heavy cream. Whisk until smooth and combined. Whisk in 1/2 cup sweetened condensed milk. Whisk until smooth. Add 1/4 teaspoon salt.
- Return the pan to medium heat and stir constantly until caramel reaches 240F. Take pan off of heat and allow caramel to cool.
- Once caramel is cool, take your cups out of the freezer. Using a spoon and some canola spray on your hands - to keep the caramel from sticking. Roll a generous teaspoon sized ball of caramel in your hand and place into the cup. Continue for all 24 cups.
- Once caramel is in all cups, spoon melted chocolate over caramel. Smooth the top. Continue for all 24. Sprinkle with sea salt while the chocolate is still melty. Place in fridge (or freezer if you are in a hurry).
- These should keep for 2 - 3 weeks (but who could save them for that long!). I recommend storing them in the fridge.
- Before giving them out, carefully peel away the silicone cup my tugging at the side and inverting the silicone cup.
**I've never used paper cups for this recipe. I've only used the silicone ones. I like the sturdiness of them so that I can get the chocolate up the sides. I worry the paper ones wouldn't hold their pleats while you try to smear chocolate up the sides. But if you try them let me know!
Peace, love, candy, and happiness!