Homemade Chocolate Caramels
Borrow from the Aztecs and spice up Valentine's Day with Homemade Chocolate Caramels. To arouse romantic passions, the Aztecs added cinnamon, and piquant spice to cold chocolate drinks. And no wonder. The play of rich and smokey flavors swirl across the palate, tingle throat and nose. Infuse heavy cream with Aztec chocolate spice to suit your tastes. Pour the peppery cream into the bubbling sugar, and watch the chemistry happen. Cream of tartar lends silky smoothness. Your sweetheart will swoon over the exotic flavours of your Homemade Chocolate Caramels. They are soft, chewy and irresistible. This Aztec chocolate caramel recipe is bold and not for the faint of heart.
Thanks to Food 52 and hardlikearmour for this exceptional recipe.
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- Makes 50 hearts or 100 squares
- 2 cups (15.2 ounces/431 grams) heavy cream
- 1/2 cup (4.05 ounces/115 grams) butter unsalted
- 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1 whole cinnamon stick broken in half
- 1 whole chipotle chilli, dried dried OR 1/4 teaspoon ground chipotle
- 1/3 cup (2 ounces/57 grams) unsweetened cocoa powder
- 1/2 cup (4.1 ounces/116 grams) water
- 1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar
- 3 cups (594 grams) white granulated cane sugar (If you use brown sugar or raw sugar, you won't get the same result)
- 1/2 cup (8.5 ounces/175 grams) light corn syrup
- several flakes edible gold leaf flakes (optional)
MISE EN PLACE THE HOMEMADE CHOCOLATE CARAMEL
- In a medium saucepan, measure the cream, butter, salt, cinnamon, dried chipotle and cocoa powder and set aside.
- Prepare a 9 x 13 inch pan by cutting
parchment paper slightly larger than the long sides of the pan to create an overhang.
- Lightly spray the pan with cooking spray and set the parchment in the pan. The cooking spray will help the parchment paper to lay flat. Fold the edges over the sides of the pan and clip them down. Spray the parchment paper lightly with cooking spray. This will make a difference when unmolding.
- In a larger pot, 6 quart (one bigger than you think you need), dissolve the cream of tartar and the water.
- Add to the large pot the sugar, and light corn syrup. Set aside.
- Get out your candy thermometer and set it next to the stove.
- Get out a wooden spoon or a heat proof spatula.
- Fill a small bowl with very cold water. Set aside.
COOKING HOMEMADE CHOCOLATE CARAMEL
- Bring the cream and spices to a gentle simmer. 30 minutes will be enough time to create prominent flavours. Simmer the cream longer for more intensity. Adjust the spice to your taste. Stir often to avoid scorching the cocoa. Best not to bring the cream to a boil. Boiling the cream will infuse bitterness. Also, when cream boils it expands and often overflows your saucepan and makes a terrible mess. Avoid this at all cost.
- After the cream is infused, begin to heat the sugar. Stir the mixture until the granules, and the corn syrup dissolve. Allow the sugar to bubble madly.
NOTE ON CREAM OF TARTAR
- Don't Omit the Cream of Tartar: During the cooking process, the granulated sugar dissolves and the molecular bonds break. However, even as the sugar cooks, the bonds remain attracted to each other and will try to reconnect. This is what is meant by crystallization. You'll see this happening along the edges of the pan during the cooking process. In the picture above, see what I mean by crystallizing sugar along the edges. When you include cream of tartar to the syrup, the cream of tartar stops the molecular attraction and keeps the bonds broken so that the sugar won't crystallize and "re-granulate." The end result is a perfectly smooth caramel. Make the effort to include the cream of tartar.
- Once the sugars are dissolved, cook without stirring and bring the heat to 310ºF. At this temperature the color will change rapidly. Swirl the pan frequently to distribute the heat and even out the color. At this stage, don't leave the stove for any reason.
- Continue to cook the sugar until it reaches 325ºF. Remove the pan from the heat immediately.
- Strain the infused cream very slowly into the cooked sugar. The mixture will bubble madly and increase in volume very quickly. Careful not to burn yourself at this stage.
- Stir to combine with your wooden spoon or heat proof spatula.
- Return the pan to the heat and continue to cook until the temperature reaches 245ºF. This temperature will give you the lower end of the firm ball stage.
- Drizzle a tiny amount of caramel (about 1 teaspoon) into your bowl of cold water. It will harden immediately on contact.
- Gather up the cooled caramel in your fingers and feel the consistency. Keep in mind that all candy thermometers read differently. 245ºF on one thermometer will be different on another. Judge the stiffness. Do you want like the softness or would you prefer one that is firmer? Cook longer for a firmer chew. Test again. If you choose to cook longer, lower the heat and take it slowly. The temperature can rise very quickly and you'll lose the soft, chewy texture.
- Pour the caramel into your prepared pan and allow to cool to room temperature.
- Don't leave any behind.
UNMOLDING THE CHOCOLATE CARAMEL
- When you're ready to unmold, gather your heart shaped cookie cutters and a large cutting board.
- Grab the parchment from the long edges and lift the candy out of the pan. Set the sheet on your cutting board.
- Proceed to cut your heart shapes out of the caramel.
- Without removing the cookie cutter, slide an offset spatula
under the caramel and lift the whole thing to a tray. Remove the cutter while on the tray. Keep some distance between the caramels.
- Continue until complete.
- Gather up the scraps and knead them together. You can cut the scraps into squares or continue to cut heart shapes.
- When ready, use tweezers to place the edible gold leaf onto the homemade chocolate caramel.
- Store in a cool place or in the fridge.