If I had to pick a desert island dessert, these salted chai caramels very well may be it. Two perennial favorites (chai tea and caramel) combine for a sweet that is both over-the-top decadent and comforting at the same time. Chewy, well-spiced, and sweet, but never cloying (thanks to a heavy-handed dusting of fleur de sel), these are easily the best thing to come out of my prolific kitchen in months.
Yes, making caramels is a time-intensive proposition, but with this recipe, it's a near foolproof procedure, provided you use a candy thermometer.
Lastly, don't be put off by the lengthy recipe: straightforward as this unusual method for caramel-cookery is, it does involve a few steps, and I also included some tips along the way, making this a perfect entrée to the world of candy-making for novices.
If cutting out 70 squares of waxed paper sounds daunting, try precut wax paper squares specifically designed for the task.
Wrapped tightly and stored in an airtight container, these should last about 10 days, with the caramels growing firmer toward the end.
3 tablespoons loose-leaf chai tea, such as Rishi Tea
1 1/2 cups heavy cream
1 1/4 cups whole milk
2 cups (14 ounces) granulated sugar
1 1/4 cups (10 ounces) dark brown sugar
1 teaspoon kosher salt
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1/2 cup light corn syrup
3 tablespoons water
Fleur de sel, for sprinkling
- Lightly grease the sides and bottom of an eight-by-eight-inch square pan. Create a parchment sling (to help remove the slab of caramel from the pan later) by cutting two rectangular pieces of parchment paper long enough to extend over the sides of the pan by two to three inches. Line the pan with the parchment.
- Add the chai, cream, and milk to a small saucepan, and bring it to a simmer, then take it off the heat and allow it to steep for 10 minutes.
- Line a fine-mesh strainer with cheesecloth and pour the steeped cream mixture through it into a six-quart stockpot.
- Add all remaining ingredients except fleur de sel into the stockpot. Place the pot over medium-low heat and whisk constantly until the butter has melted and the sugar has completely dissolved.
- Clip a candy thermometer to the side of the pan, making sure that the tip does not touch the bottom of the pan, and that it is completely submerged in the liquid. Continue to cook the caramels until the temperature reaches 246°F, about 35 to 45 minutes.
- Take the pot off the heat and immediately (and carefully, sugar burns are notoriously bad) pour all of the caramel mixture into the prepared pan. Allow it to cool for 10 to 15 minutes, then sprinkle with the fleur de sel.
- Let the caramel cool completely to room temperature, then cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 30 minutes to an hour to firm up and make the cutting process easier.
- While the caramel chills, cut wax paper into six-by-six-inch squares. Make sure to cut a few extra (at least 70 if cutting the caramels into one-by-one-inch square pieces), as some will rip during the wrapping process.
- Run a butter knife around the edges of the pan to loosen any stubborn bits, and lift out the slab of caramel, using the parchment paper sling as handles. Place the caramel on a cutting board, parchment paper side down, and cut into one-by-one-inch squares (or whatever size you desire).
- Wrap each caramel tightly in a waxed paper square and twist both ends. Store the wrapped caramels in an airtight container to extend shelf life (the twists aren’t perfectly airtight).
- Desserts, Candy
- 64 caramels