Tip: Read your recipe in its entirety before you turn on the stove or fill the first teaspoon. Read it carefully. Every. Word.
No. You didn’t read this wrong. The text didn’t get flip-flopped, either.
I began with a tip this time because it’s one that I should’ve followed.
My girl, Ina… You know, the Barefoot C. has these Fleur de Sel Caramels she makes. I’ve seen her do it, and ever since, I’ve been dying to make them.
I’ve had my reasons for not doing it… The main one: it’d be cheaper to buy the Hope diamond and grind it up than it would be to buy Fleur de Sel. Not to mention, Scooby Doo would even have a hard time finding the stuff.
Fleur de Sel is a French sea salt that’s harvested by hand. So you’re paying for the hard work. I thought about using plain sea salt or kosher salt or Himalayan salt… But the Fleur de Sel really is special. I know that now since I went on a scavenger hunt to find it in an affordable form.
This salt starts to melt as soon as it hits your tongue. It’s somewhat sweet and oh so delicate. It’s considered a moist salt… It kind of reminds me of wet sand that sticks to your wet bathing suit.. It’s kind of clumpy. The moisture keeps it from dissolving when it hits moist food. Plus, the crystals are all different sizes, so you may get a little crunch from one crystal as another one is dissolving on your tongue.
My local Fresh Market didn’t have it. Whole Foods didn’t, either. I found it at another Fresh Market location. A small container was $15, I think. I knew I wouldn’t need that much of it, so I passed.
The Spice & Tea Exchange came to my rescue. If you love spices and specialty teas and you haven’t been there, you should cry yourself to sleep tonight.
With the main ingredient in hand, I went for it.
Ina’s recipe is fairly simple, considering the candy we’re talking about.
Both mixtures are ultimately combined (this creates a volcanic reaction of barking bubbles) and brought to a specific temperature using a candy thermometer. You can’t use the same thermometer you used on your pork roast. It’s worth the extra money, though. I needed it to make marshmallows, too.
To the sugar/cream combo, you add some vanilla then pour it into a pan lined with parchment paper that’s been greased. Wax paper would melt. Again, parchment paper is worth the extra money.
Ina says you should take out the slab, cut it in half, then roll each half. She suggests cutting the rolls into pieces and salting them. Then, she wraps each piece in a square of parchment paper, which looks like traditional taffy.
Here’s my confession. I screwed up. According to the recipe, the sugar/cream mix should take ten minutes to reach temperature. People commented on her recipe, writing that it took them 20-30 minutes. Well, it took me about 3 minutes. I couldn’t figure out why!
I put the mix in the fridge. It cooled, but it didn’t cut up easily. In fact, parts of it were hard and actually broke into shards.
Upon further examination of the recipe, I realized that the sugar mix was supposed to be taken off the heat before I added the cream mixture, which is why it should’ve taken up to 30 minutes to rise to the right temperature.
I wrapped each piece like Ina suggested. Let me tell you, It’d be easier to pick up individual crystals of the Fleur de Sel by using hockey sticks as chopsticks. Again, it’s worth it. They really look cute.
I’m glad I tried this recipe. I almost made it again the same night just to see if following the recipe correctly would make a different, but because they tasted great, I decided to wait.
I don’t know that my version would’ve made Ina say her trademark, “How good is that?,” but I certainly think she would’ve found me worthy of mopping the floors in her Hamptons home.
Tip: Read the 1st paragraph of this post every time you step in the kitchen.