Wednesday, 15 August 2018

Hazelnut and Chocolate Caramels

Ever in pursuit of new recipes, I thought I'd try this delicious-sounding one cut out of the Sunday Times Magazine.   The resulting sweets tasted absolutely divine, and went down well with my testers.  If you sense a "but" coming, you are right!   But.... they didn't get hard enough to eat without very messy fingers, which wouldn't have mattered, except that my test group and I were on a trip to Ypres as part of the World War I commemorations.    Actually, taking home made caramels to Belgium is an exercise in "coals to Newcastle" anyway - and, yes, I was cheeky enough to ask the young woman in the Leonidas chocolate shop to taste one!   (and, yes, she liked it)

The recipe states quite clearly that you should not try the caramel until it has set.  As you can see from the photo below, I couldn't do that.   You will need a sugar thermometer - it's a great excuse to buy one! 

Toasted Hazelnut and Chocolate Caramels
Toasted Hazelnut and Chocolate Caramels

240ml double cream
140g dark chocolate
1 pinch of salt
195g golden caster sugar (I used half white and half soft brown)
75g liquid glucose
1.5tbsp unsalted butter (I used salted)
65g whole hazelnuts, blanched and toasted

Line a medium square tin with non stick parchment and set aside (about 8” square).  Get a sugar thermometer ready. 

Melt together the cream, chocolate and pinch of salt in a microwave (easiest) or heatproof bowl over simmering water.    Now take a medium size heavy base pan and warm the sugar, glucose and 1.5 tbsp of water over a low heat until it has dissolved. You can stir it occasionally.  Turn up the heat and boil until it becomes a terracotta colour – first of all the bubbles will get larger, and then the colour will change from clear to golden, and then to brown.   To keep the temperature even, swirl the pan from time to time.    Once it has become a caramel colour, take it off the heat.

Now, pour in the melted cream and chocolate.   Be careful, as the boiling caramel is VERY hot!   Put the pan back on the heat (medium), and stir until the caramel thickens and reaches 107 deg C. 

Remove the pan from the heat and stir in the butter and hazelnuts.  Pour the caramel into the tray and leave it to cool.   I sprinkled some salt flakes on it at this point, as I love the salt coming through the caramel.   Resist the temptation to cut it up until it has become thoroughly cool and hard (possibly my mistake!).   It should become hard enough to need cutting with a knife warmed in hot water.   Wrap the little rectangles/squares in waxed paper.