It's a slow afternoon. That doesn't happen too often as is perhaps illustrated by the amount of time that has passed since my last blog post. I know I've made these empty promises over the last year that I *will* get back to my blog and *will* try to post with more frequency. But I guess I'm not gonna say that anymore since clearly - I won't. But it doesn't mean I'm gone forever! It just means that life is so busy and full that you will have to be patient between postings!!
I'm really not cooking a whole lot of new stuff. And only baking for special occasions. But you know what I AM making a lot of? Like literally by the hundreds? Caramels...
|This might be the perfect little candy...|
Vanilla Bean Salted Caramels to be exact. This is an old, old recipe that my aunties have been making for my entire life (and I suppose, longer). Originally there was no vanilla bean, no salt, and included walnuts. The aunties would make huge batches around the holidays and they were given out as gifts. And occasionally off-season, if you showed up at someone's house they'd bring a bag out of the freezer and you had to be PATIENT as the caramels warmed to room temperature...or just chip a tooth (they're just about worth the sacrifice.)
I don't precisely recall when I started playing with the recipe. It was probably a few years ago when I was making marshmallows and decided I wanted to attempt a "Scotch Kiss" à la See's Candy. The scotch kisses (caramel covered marshmallows) didn't work so well due to the caramel hardening too quickly, but one thing I did discover is that the family caramel recipe is incredible!!
|For the Bake Sale I made about 240 caramels - that is one HUGE batch|
I had a large batch of vanilla beans -- Costco had been selling them. And this was also about the time salted-fill-in-the-blank was becoming so popular on the dessert scene. It of course started with caramel (salted caramel ice cream practically went viral), but I was also seeing salt sprinkled on chocolate and various chocolate tarts and even over unsalted butter to serve with bread at restaurants. I personally love the flavor and crunch a sprinkling of salt adds to an item.
And there we have it. I took out the nuts (woulda been a lot going on in there), threw in some vanilla bean, sprinkled them with sea salt and watched them get devoured.
|The cutting and wrapping really is the hardest part - takes FOREVER|
I've always said one of the reasons I love to cook and bake so much is to watch people enjoy the food I make. Maybe it's an ego-boost, so maybe it's semi-selfish of me. But who cares. Making people happy is making people happy! And I have not seen people get quite so happy about something I've turned out of my kitchen since the latest batch of macs! People LOVE these caramels. How simple it is to toss a few in a baggie and deliver them to a friend over lunch, dinner, coffee and then watch them smile!
|Call me crazy and oddly frugal, but I cut my own wrappers out of wax paper too|
They're very tedious to make (all that cutting and wrapping) but they keep forever in the freezer! And they don't get crushed under the weight of a tissue (like macarons, I swear...) So I'm loving my salted caramels.
In fact, I'm loving them so much - and so is everyone else - that I'm thinking I might start selling them to friends locally. Just to test out the demand. So friends - stay tuned!! And watch Facebook! And if you're not on Facebook - then I guess you won't get any... but who's not on Facebook?!!
|I don't always enjoy eating my creations, but these I will devour!!|
Depending on how this goes, maybe I'll expand and *gasp* ship. And try new flavors - chocolate has already been attempted and is... fabulous! But for now - the operation will remain small. Small is good. Small means I might actually still be able to blog once every few months... like I just did, here!!