Pipe Dream #3: To Make the Perfect Caramel (or “How To Win Friends And Influence People”)

twixes

I am not a candy maker. I have tried it plenty of times. Last November, I tried making these maple-nut truffle things. I didn’t add enough sugar because I miscalculated when halving the recipe. Typical. More recently, I tried making Penuche Fudge, a Martha Stewart recipe. This was actually a complete bomb. The last I heard, my little sister had taken half of the batch to school and told her friends it was ” dry fudge.” Ahaha. Apparently the 15-year-olds were raving about the recipe. I wasn’t.

But my real trouble is caramels. Caramels are irresistible. Probably, they have all read the book “How to Win Friends and Influence People.” They have won me and influenced me in almost every area of my life. Perhaps I exaggerate. However, I have tried many times unsuccessfully to make them on my own. How easy! all the recipes taunt me. Essentially, they are just sugar and cream. My most notable failure-turned-success in caramel-making is actually another Martha Stewart recipe for Caramel-Dipped Hazelnuts. Martha, why are your recipes so tricky?

While the caramel sort of came together, I was left with a bunch of hair-like sticks and some messed-up hazelnuts to ponder. Luckily, I was able to salvage enough of the sticks for a few photos…

All this to say, anyway, that I have finally found a caramel recipe that hasn’t defeated me. I can’t explain why. I was being blessed with heretofore unknown ability. For a two-hour period. Shortly after I made these Homemade Twix Bars, I forgot to stow them in my car. They were supposed to be a hostess gift. I just tried to be extra nice to my hostess instead. A poor substitute, I know. I’ll make it up next time.

Here is the glorious product of my work. I make a lot of recipes. This one I highly recommend.

twix

Please make this immediately and then give me one,

Lauren

Homemade Twix Bars

Adapted from “Desserts By The Yard” by Sherry Yard

Shortbread

1 stick plus 3 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened

1/4 cup sugar

2 cups cake flour

1/4 teaspoon salt

2 tablespoons ground rice (I ground mine in a food processor, which did about half the job. Then I tapped it through a sieve. It took forever. I’m pretty sure you could do without it.)

Make the Shortbread:

Preheat the oven to 350°F. Spray a 9-X-13-inch baking pan with pan spray and line with parchment paper. Spray the parchment.

In a large bowl  cream the butter and sugar until fluffy. Gradually add the flour, ground rice and salt and allow the dough to come together. The dough will be crumbly but should hold together when you squeeze it.

Press the dough evenly into the bottom of the baking pan. Place in the oven and bake for 12 minutes. Rotate the pan from front to back and bake for another 10 minutes, until the shortbread is a deep golden brown. Remove from the oven and allow to cool to room temperature.

Caramel

2 cups sugar

3/4 cup corn syrup

1/2 cup water

1 teaspoon lemon juice

1 cup heavy cream

1 cup sweetened condensed milk

1/4 teaspoon salt plus more for sprinkling over the caramel layer

Make the Caramel:

Combine the sugar, corn syrup, water, and lemon juice in a large saucepan. Remove any sugar crystals from the sides of the pan by wiping down the sides with water. You can use your hand or a pastry brush. Place the pot on medium-high heat and bring to a boil. Wipe down any stray sugar crystals that appear using a very clean and wet pastry brush. Do not stir from this point on, but keep an eye on the pan. The mixture will be very bubbly.

When the sugar syrup starts to turn golden brown, insert a candy thermometer to check the temperature. When it reaches 300°F, remove the pan from the heat and let it sit for one minute, or until the bubbles subside. Whisk in the heavy cream. Stir until smooth, then whisk in the condensed milk. Add the salt and whisk until smooth.

Return the pan to the heat and stir constantly over medium heat until the caramel reaches 240°F. Remove from the heat and pour over the shortbread. While the caramel is warm sprinkle the surface with the best quality salt you have. Note: the caramel will burn you severely if you try to dip your finger in it at this point. Believe it. Let it set for 2 hours.

Chocolate Glaze

6 oz bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped (Bittersweet chocolate chips also work)

2 tablespoons butter

Make Chocolate Glaze:

Melt the chocolate and butter in the microwave. If using the microwave melt it slowly in 30 second intervals. Stir well after each interval.

Once completely melted, pour over the caramel.  Using an offset spatula or whatever you want, smooth the chocolate into an even layer.

Place in the refrigerator to set. The caramel cuts best when chilled, but the chocolate needs to be finnagled into cutting nicely, so be careful or it will crack. I used a serrated knife to decent effect. Cut into desired shape and size and serve. Store in the refrigerator.

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17 Responses to “Pipe Dream #3: To Make the Perfect Caramel (or “How To Win Friends And Influence People”)”


  1. 1 tim Huisinga April 1, 2011 at 11:11 am

    The consistency of these caramels was perfect. I think it is an exact temperature thing. Yum!

  2. 2 bep April 1, 2011 at 11:16 am

    Loli – the website looks great! Emmy showed it to me. I’m so impressed with it and you and the delicious treats.
    Love,
    Beppy

  3. 3 Carmen Huisinga April 1, 2011 at 2:21 pm

    I took the aforesaid forgotten Twix Bars to my Bible study group. They were a complete hit. Then I ate the rest. They were a complete hit.

  4. 4 Lem April 1, 2011 at 10:46 pm

    Loli- homemade twix bars? (ha! I spelled bras first instead of bars. See how excited they make me? Be still my beating heart.) Thank you, I’ll take a dozen.

  5. 5 Sharon Hedstrom April 2, 2011 at 10:37 am

    LOLI-GON! I love your new blog! I will faithfully follow and salivate! You and your site are SWEET! Love, Auntie Sharon

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