I can not imagine anything more lovely than being presented with a box of these dark salty caramels from your valentine. They are unbelievably deep, dark and delicious, hovering ever so closely to the edge of bitter but narrowly escaping, thanks to the judicious addition of salt. These are adult caramels, for grown ups with a mature palate that no longer desires cloying sweets.
We have Alton Brown (and my sister Bonnie) to thank for this genius recipe. Reading through the ingredient list I did a double take when I came to the 6th ingredient…soy sauce! Soy sauce brings the funk to these caramels. It adds to the deep dark colour and provides a salty element as well as contributing umami, that savoury flavour that makes your mouth water.
If you are a fly by the seat of your pants baker, the kind who likes to bake free form, without any recipes or directions, and you know who you are, then this recipe is not for you.
If you are faint of heart and don’t like danger or risk taking, then this recipe is not for you either.
Making these caramels requires precision and nerves of steel. You need to stand over that pot and watch the candy thermometer. When it looks like the caramel is very dark and you are convinced it is going to burn any second now, do not remove it from the heat until the temperature registers 350°F. Have faith that Alton Brown knows what he is talking about. He is wise. If you remove the caramel too soon, you will end up with your grandma’s insipid blah caramels. If you are patient, you will be rewarded with caramels that have a depth and complexity of flavour that you have never experienced before.
That being said, please do not bypass the first step of the recipe where I instruct you to test your candy thermometer. Candy thermometers are not infallible.This molten caramel is VERY hot so wear oven mitts and resist the urge to lick the pot. It will take a good 3-4 hours to cool to room temperature so again, patience is required. After 3 hours I refrigerated them so they would firm up even more, making it much easier to get nice clean square cuts with a very sharp knife. I found this pretty little box at Target last week. It is part of the Nate Berkus Collection and is intended to be used as a jewellery box. I tarted it up with some pretty ribbon and turned it into a bon bon box.For storing the caramels, it is best to wrap each one individually in parchment paper.