SMS: Chocolate-Honey Creme Caramels

So we’re off and running with a brand New Year of Sweet Melissa Sundays, and I’m so pleased to start with a recipe chosen by my adorable and hilarious friend Jeannette of The Whimsical Cupcake: Chocolate-Honey Creme Caramels. Though I didn’t realize SMS was back in action until the last minute, I was able to whip up a batch of these gooey-chewy candies with ingredients I luckily had on hand. And bonus!- I got to use my new handy-dandy digital thermometer.

After I nearly scolded myself trying to take the temperature of boiling-hot, bubbling red raspberry jam (the probe on my old-school thermometer wasn’t long enough to reach when attached to the side of the pot), I decided that with plans to pursue future jam and candy making ventures, I needed to outfit my kitchen with the proper hardware. Of course, I did some online research, reading a slew of reviews, and finally settled on this model, which I found, no problem, at the local Le Gourmet Chef. Does anyone else feel dangerous walking into one of those stores? I feel like I’m rendered powerless when faced with aisles chock full of tempting cooking and baking gadgets, shiny pans of every shape and size, and cutesie kitchen gear that I certainly don’t need, but just can’t live without. Maybe it’s just me. This time I made it out alive with just the thermometer. And a cookie scoop. C’mon, I didn’t have that size! All in all I’d say I was pretty good. Thankfully, I was on a mission. I had to go home and get caramel-izing.

Since my past experience with caramel has been touch-and-go, my heart began beating faster when I read that we’d be exploring it again. But I trust Jeannette, so I was off to the stove! One thing I thought was very interesting, was that nearly all the ingredients were combined at the beginning, and you basically just stir and wait for the mixture to come up to temperature (which, by the way, took between 20-25 minutes!). This recipe called for the syrup to reach the “firm-ball stage,” specifically 248 degrees F. I discovered a wealth of information on baking911.com about the different temperature stages used in candy making- there’s a very helpful chart that demystifies the terminology- and learned that “firm-ball” indicates a final product that is malleable and will flatten when squeezed. With that in mind, I was happy to find my block of set-up caramel exhibited the characteristic description.

After completing the sticky business of cutting into 64 bite-size squares, I offered my Mom a taste, and she hummed her usual “Mmmm!” Always a good sign. She loved the balance of rich chocolate and sweet honey, and thought the taste was exceptional, rivaling gourmet quality. While I didn’t win over my caramel-hating Dad- he too liked the taste, but couldn’t overlook the texture he typically dislikes- I considered these sweets a success, and I’m definitely looking forward to sharing… boy, once these little guys are all nice and cozy in their twisted wax paper wrappers and piled high, there’s really a mountain of ‘em. A quarter or half batch probably would have been plenty for us, (I knew I should have followed Hanaâ’s lead!) But, I have a feeling they’ll still somehow end up disappearing!

A BIG shout-out (and thank you) to my dear Jeannette- please head on over to her fabulous blog, The Whimsical Cupcake, for the recipe… not only will you see some mouth watering creations, but I guarantee she’ll put a smile on your face! If you’re like me, and the thought of caramel making evokes your inner cowardly lion, give these relatively simple Chocolate-Honey Creme Caramels a shot, and let me know if you need a personal candy making cheerleader- I’ll absolutely be right there. That’s what virtual baking buddies are all about!

I want to wish all of you a FANTASTIC New Year filled with much love, great happiness, and good health. I am so looking forward to sharing many more of my kitchen adventures with you on Hot Oven, Warm Heart, and baking together with all you incredibly talented bloggers throughout 2010! Let’s have lots of fun creating a wide array of delicious delicacies, and chatting about our experiences. The very best recipes may be yet to come :)

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13 responses

  1. Joy,

    First off, a very happy new year to you too, Joy. Wishing happiness and good health.
    I’m very happy to see that you’re back. You did such a great job with those caramels. You went all out and made the whole batch and wrapped them all! Kudos to you!! I took, what I considered, the “creative” route and used paper cups (between you and me, I was lazy and that’s why I used paper cups, ha ha). I kinda wish I had made more than just a 1/4 recipe. They’re super good! Congrats on your candy thermometer. Looks like you got a nice one. And I love Le Gourmet Chef. I’m glad I don’t like that close to it anymore, ha ha.

    Thank you so much for your compliments on my new kitchen. I’m loving it, especially my new oven. Love the convection feature. You have an open invitation to check it out for yourself, anytime. Wouldn’t it be cool to bake together?

    Btw, my most recent cake, the Whipped Cream Cake, was a huge hit. It’s super easy and fast to make too. From gathering the ingredients to making the batter and taking the cake out of the oven = 1 hour. Here’s the link to the recipe if you’d like to give it a shot: http://www.amazon.com/gp/feature.html?docId=1000407421.

    If you’re still interested in our ATK baking project, how about if we post it on the last Saturday of each month? Would you like to do the honor of picking the first recipe?

    Take care, and talk to you soon.
    Don’t be a stranger! :o)

    Hanaâ

  2. Joy!
    These look so delicious and I’m so happy they came out great! Be sure to keep them away from my Dad.. he loves caramels LOL! I miss you dearly . Keep up the good work and I’ll see you soon!
    Love,
    Erica

  3. Hey Joy – Happy New Year to you!!! I didn’t realize SMS was back and baking either so I missed these. Seeing your photos now made me REALLY want to make these candies. I will def make them at some point in the new future. BTW – your photos are lovely too.

  4. Oh Joy! You’re too cute! :)

    I’m SO GLAD that these came together really well for you and that your mom loved them! I know that you base most of your successes on the taste buds of your mom. So… way to go mom for liking them :D

    I really want to invest in a digital read thermometer but it’s not in the budget. Plus, I don’t want to make my little manual read one jealous ;) So I guess I’ll stick with that one for a while.

    And no, you are not the only one that can’t go into those types of places and leave with everything but the kitchen sink. I am one of those people. I went to Williams-Sonoma for something small and ALMOST bought 6 small, albeit adorable tartlette pans. I quickly came to my senses and walked out!! HA!

    I hope you had a great holiday and that you’re ready to get back into the swing of things this year :D I’ve missed you my friend! Thank you for “baking” along with me :)

  5. Happy new year, Joy! Your caramels look amazing, I’m sure it will be no problem getting rid of a full batch. Oh, cooking stores make me so happy; I’m impressed you came out with just one extra item. I bought a new candy thermometer recently, which is better than the one I had before, but not flawless, so I’ll check out the model you linked to.

  6. Hi Joy!
    Thanks for saying hello! It’s great to see your back. The holidays are such a busy time of year, so no worries about not being around. I hope all is going well with you.
    Have a wonderful New Year and look fwd to seeing you around SMS! Happy Baking!
    Michelle

  7. Hello Joy! Hope all is well and that the New Year is treating you and all your close ones perfectly! Thanks for stopping by and say hello!

    Your caramels look beautiful – Because of your pictures, I wish I had a chance to make these ones!

    Hope to talk to you soon,
    Stephanie :)

  8. Pingback: SMS: Chocolate Pie Crust – Black-Bottom Peanut Butter Mousse Pie with Pralined Peanuts « Hot Oven, Warm Heart

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