Recently I ran a riff about Trader Joe’s Fleur de Sel Caramels in my e-newsletter.
I cautioned that they are too good. A buttery soft crew made irresistible with fancy French sea salt. Theirs are so delectable, I stopped making them.
A couple of readers wrote to complain.
Trader Joe’s in their neighborhoods had run out. The supply? Kaput.
They requested that I post my recipe. So here it is, butter, salt and all. Often, I dip one end of each caramel in melted chocolate then sprinkle on some chopped pistachios and a tiny pinch of fleur de sel.
Fleur de Sel Caramels
Yield: About 40 caramels
About 1 teaspoon canola oil
1 cup heavy whipping cream
5 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into pieces; see cook’s notes
1 teaspoon fleur de sel
1 1/2 cups sugar
1/4 cup light corn syrup
1/4 cup water
Optional: Chocolate-nut coating:
8 ounces coating chocolate, such as Dolci Frutta (sold next to berries in supermarkets)
1 to 2 teaspoon finely chopped pistachios or walnuts
Pinch finely ground fleur de sel
Cook’s notes: It’s best to use a European-style butter that contains less moisture and higher butterfat. Land O’Lakes makes one that is sold in most supermarkets. Fleur de sel is a special sea salt sold at culinary specialty shops such as Sur La Table and Williams-Sonoma, as well as supermarkets that stock specialty items. If desired, substitute kosher salt. For wax paper to wrap candies, I use waxed bakery tissues from Smart & Final. They are in a pull-out box like facial tissues and are 10 3/4 by 6 inches. I cut them in half and place the waxed side next to candy.
1. Line bottom and sides of 8-inch square baking dish with parchment paper, then lightly brush parchment with oil. Set aside.
2. In small saucepan, combine cream, butter and fleur de sel. Bring to boil on medium-high heat. Remove from heat and set aside.
3. In heavy, 3- to 4-quart saucepan, combine sugar, corn syrup and water. Bring to boil on medium-high heat, stirring until sugar dissolves. Boil, without stirring but occasionally gently swirling pan, until mixture is light golden caramel.
4. Carefully stir in cream mixture (mixture will bubble up) and simmer, stirring frequently, until caramel registers 248 degrees on candy thermometer, about 10 to 15 minutes. Pour into baking pan and cool 2 hours. Cut into 1-inch pieces with sharp knife. Wrap in 4-inch squares of wax paper, twisting 2 ends to enclose (see cook’s notes). Or, if desired, coat one end in chocolate.
5. If coating ends in chocolate, melt coating chocolate according to package directions. Place sheet of wax paper on work surface. Tip one end of caramel into chocolate and shake lightly to remove excess. Place on wax paper. Sprinkle chocolate with pinch of nuts and a tiny bit of salt. Repeat with remaining caramels. When chocolate cools, it will harden. Wrap in wax paper (see step No. 4 and cook’s notes).
Nutritional information (per caramel without chocolate and nuts): Calories 190 (83 percent from fat), fat 17.5 g, protein 1.5 g, carbohydrates 7.2 g, fiber 0.1 g, sodium 53 g, calcium 6 g
Source: Caramel portion of recipe adapted from Gourmet magazine
Fleur de sel: Hand-harvested sea salt collected by workers who scrape only the top layer of salt before it sinks. Traditional French fleur de sel is collected off the coast ofBrittany and Camargue. Due to its relative scarcity, Fleur de sel is one of the more expensive salts. It’s sold at markets and stops that stock “gourmet” items and online.