Honey Lavender Caramel & A Guessing Game

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

The other weekend I had a container of heavy cream that needed to be used. I also had some dried culinary lavender just sitting around. So, voila! I decided to make some caramels and found this recipe for honey lavender caramel.

I've never made caramels before, I but I figured it was pretty straightforward. My favorite part was steeping the milk, heavy cream and lavender. It smelled absolutely amazing. It also looked gorgeous...I don't think my picture does it justice, but on the flip side, I don't consider myself a photographer.

I don't have any pictures of me making the actual caramel, as it's a hot and sticky process - no place for a camera. Things were going pretty well, though, as I waited around for the mixture to reach 240° F. Once it hit that point, I was to stir furiously until it reached 248° F.

Needless to say, things got interesting when the digital readout on my candy thermometer went insane. It started flashing, displaying wacky temps and then no temps. At that point, it was at about 230° F so I knew I was close but exactly how close? No clue. I decided to stir and stir and then pull the caramel off the heat and add the vanilla extract and salt, per the instructions.

I then poured the caramel into my prepared pan. Take a look at the color of my caramel. Now take a look at the picture on The Gilded Fork's post. Hmm. Obviously mine was on the heat for a wee bit longer than theirs. In any event, I popped it into the fridge to firm up.

After an hour or so, I took the caramel out of the fridge and flipped it onto a cutting board. I started trying to cut it and it was IMPOSSIBLE. It actually cracked right in half. I assumed at that point I had royally screwed up the caramel. However, once it had warmed up to room temperature, it was much easier to slice right through.

So, I ended up with quite the collection of randomly shaped caramels (precision is not a strong point of mine). Also, there were a lot more than what you see in the picture below...I had to keep on "testing" the caramels to make sure they were edible for others.

The lavender was very, very subtle. If I didn't tell you they were honey lavender caramels, you probably wouldn't pick up on the lavender. But once you knew, you could definitely taste just a hint of lavender. I think, though, that if you try and make these and your thermometer doesn't die in the middle of the process, the end result might be better in both appearance and taste.

All-in-all this was a fun process. I made something new, I didn't end up with caramel spilled all over my kitchen, and Steve and I (and friends!) were able to devour a ton of caramel goodness.

Honey Lavender Caramels

Recipe from The Gilded Fork

Yields about 6 dozen 1-inch square caramels

1 cup milk (note: I used skim milk because that's all I had)1 ½ cups heavy cream
2 teaspoons dried lavender buds
¾ cup unsalted butter
¾ cup honey
1 ¾ cups sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
½ teaspoon salt

9 inch square pan or an 11×7 in rectangular pan
A large pot that holds at least 4 quarts
Candy thermometer (note: make sure yours works!)

Prepare your pan by greasing it with butter then lining the bottom with wax or parchment paper.

Place the milk, heavy cream and lavender buds in a medium saucepan and bring to a boil. Once the liquid comes to a boil, turn off the heat and let the lavender steep for 30 minutes. Strain through a fine mesh sieve, reserving the liquid. You may now discard the lavender. Measure the liquid; you should now have approximately 2 cups.

Combine all of the ingredients except the vanilla and salt in a deep saucepan. Cook over medium heat, stirring frequently, until the mixture comes to a full boil. Using a pastry brush, brush down any sugar that has crept up the sides of the pan. When the mixture reads 240° F on the candy thermometer, begin stirring constantly until it registers 248° F, about 20 minutes total.

Immediately remove from heat, stir in the vanilla and the salt, and pour into the prepared baking pan. Cool the mixture completely until it is firm, at least 1-2 hours in the refrigerator. Invert the caramel onto a cutting board and turn glossy side up. Cut into 1 inch squares and store in an airtight container between layers of parchment paper. (Note: you may need to let the caramel come to room temperature in order to cut the caramel without having it crack into pieces).


Katie said...

That sounds/looks DELICIOUS! Honestly - I like the color of yours WAY better than in the other post. THAT is what caramel looks like to me- the other one looked too buttery. I may have to be brave and attempt this!

Mrs. Hot Cocoa said...

These look delicious. I love caramels.

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