Currently Listening: Neck of the Woods by Silversun Pickups
Quick post here. Just wanted to share some caramel-y goodness that my friend Sarah and I made together to celebrate our three year friend-versary (love you, friend). They were great, until she had the sense to sprinkle some coarse kosher salt on top of them (which I'd forgotten). Then they turned into something else entirely. The pause in conversation and look on people's faces when they ate one was enough. :) They are quite soft, as you can tell from the picture. It's the style of caramel I grew up with, so that was normal for me, but if you're brave and know what you're doing with molten sugar, try letting it get just past soft ball stage. Also, I searched several places for pepitas, which are shelled pumpkin seeds. I found a bag at Trader Joe's. Since you get quite a surplus, they're a good garnish for salads or just munching on.
Salted Pumpkin Caramels
Makes 64, 1-inch caramels
2/3 cup unsalted pepitas
1 1/2 cups heavy cream
2/3 cup pumpkin puree
1 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
2 cups white sugar
1/2 cups light corn syrup
1/3 cup good maple syrup
1/4 cup of water
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut in chunks
1 teaspoon lemon juice
3/4 teaspoon fleur de sel
Dry toast the pepitas in a skillet until they start to pop.
Line the bottom and the sides of an 8-in square glass pan with parchment. Butter the parchment on the sides of the pan. Evenly spread out the toasted pepitos on the bottom of the pan, on top of the parchment.
In a saucepan, combine heavy cream, pumpkin puree and spices. Get this mixture quite warm, but not boiling. Set aside.
In a second heavy bottomed pan, with sides at least 4 inches high, combine the sugar, both syrups and water. Stir until the sugars are melted, Then let it boil until it reaches 244 degrees (the soft ball point on a candy thermometer). Then very carefully add the cream and pumpkin mixture, and slowly bring this mixture to 240 degrees as registered on a on a candy thermometer. This can take awhile -- like 30 minutes -- but don't leave the kitchen, watch it carefully and stir it more frequently once it hits 230 degrees to keep it from burning at the bottom of the pan.
As soon as it reaches the 240F, pull it off the heat and stir in the butter and lemon juice. Stir vigorously so that butter is fully incorporated.
Pour the mixture into the prepared pan. Let cool 30 minutes and sprinkle the salt over the top. Let the caramels fully set (at least 2 hours) before using a hot knife to cut them into 1-inch squares and wrapping them individually in waxed paper.
Followed lovingly from the original recipe.