There are certain trends I’m less than fond of:
I don’t think lavender is all that appealing in a hand soap, and it’s even less appealing in an ice cream. In fact, I am pretty certain that even the people jumping on the bandwagon just like the way it sounds.
In addition, and brace yourself….
I’m kinda over bacon. Not BACON bacon, but chocolate covered bacon/bacon cookies/bacon buttercream/bacon… everything. The fact that I would utter those words about my beloved bacon prove the point that if you make anything too ubiquitous it will smother you with its versatility and have you gasping for air.
Okay, time to lighten up…
There are some trends that just make sense, and so they stick and stay. One such trend is salted caramel. Now, there is just nothing at all wrong with that. I love salt. I love caramel. I love salted caramel. See? That was easy.
I have been doing the salted caramel thing for a while now, and was elated to come across a recipe for Salted Pumpkin Caramels on one of my favorite food sites, Food 52. This site is hosted by the wonderful Amanda Hesser, of the NY Times, and is a fabulous source for techniques, trends, recipes, and food stories.
I made a batch of these caramels last week and people have been hounding me for the recipe ever since. They are good. They are very, very good.
One note, these caramels are meant to be relatively soft. If you want firmer caramels, cook them a few degrees more at the end. Candy making can take a few tries to get the hang of it, but making a proper caramel is a process worth investing in.
After all, all the cool kids are doing it.
Salted Pumpkin Caramels
YIELD: 60 1 inch caramels
2/3 cup unsalted pumpkin seeds
1 1/2 cups heavy cream
2/3 cup pumpkin puree
1 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
2 cups white sugar
1/2 cups light corn syrup
1/3 cup good maple syrup
1/4 cup of water
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut in chunks
1 teaspoon lemon juice
3/4 teaspoon fleur de sel
Dry toast the pumpkin seeds in a skillet until they start to pop.
Line the bottom and the sides of an 8-in square glass pan with parchment. Butter the parchment on the sides of the pan. Evenly spread out the toasted pepitos on the bottom of the pan, on top of the parchment.
In a saucepan, combine heavy cream, pumpkin puree and spices. Get this mixture quite warm, but not boiling. Set aside.
In a second heavy bottomed pan, with sides at least 4 inches high, combine the sugar, both syrups and water. Stir until the sugars are melted, Then let it boil until it reaches 244 degrees (the soft ball point on a candy thermometer). Then very carefully add the cream and pumpkin mixture, and slowly bring this mixture to 240 degrees as registered on a on a candy thermometer. This can take awhile — like 30 minutes — but don’t leave the kitchen, watch it carefully and stir it more frequently once it hits 230 degrees to keep it from burning at the bottom of the pan.
As soon as it reaches the 240, pull it off the heat and stir in the butter and lemon juice. Stir vigorously so that butter is fully incorporated.
Pour the mixture into the prepared pan. Let cool 30 minutes and sprinkle the salt over the top. Let the caramels fully set (at least 2 hours) before using a hot knife to cut them into 1-inch squares and wrapping them individually in waxed paper.
* My Two Cents: When you pour the hot caramel over the seeds, they will redistribute a bit. Don’t worry about that. Once the candies are wrapped, it won’t make a bit of difference in appearance.
* I wrap my candies is natural wax paper, for a vintage look. They are extremely cute packaged as a gift in a cellophane bag with a nice ribbon and kraft tag.