Orange-Almond Caramels

12/19/2013

caramel

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Every year as Christmas gifts, I like to make things with the citrus from our yard. This year I decided to make caramels with our oranges. I know making candy sounds daunting, but truthfully, even though I am NOT a baker (precision is not my forte), I found this recipe to be easy. The longest part of the process was wrapping them individually (and trying to get a caramel block unstuck from wax paper. More on this later.)

This recipe came from Matt Armendariz’s Mattbites blog, which is fabulous. (He apparently likes cooking with citrus as much as I do, too.) He uses blood oranges, which of course are the creme de la creme of oranges, but I used my tangerines and they turned out just fine.

Ingredients:

3 c freshly squeezed orange juice
1 c granulated sugar
1 c packed light brown sugar
1 stick unsalted butter, room temperature
1/3 c cream
1 t vanilla
1 c toasted almonds
sea salt flakes

Instructions:

Line the bottom of a baking pan with parchment paper. DO NOT use wax paper. Wax paper melts to the caramel, and you then have a mess. (Matt warned me about this in his recipe, but I have a habit of making do with things I have in my kitchen, which was wax paper at the time, and not parchment. Do not make my mistake. If you do, you can use my remedy of having your partner blow a hair-drier over the caramel stuck to the paper while you slowly try to pry it off. Save yourself some grey hairs and just use parchment the first time around.) Next, put the orange juice in a heavy 4-quart saucepan. Boil the juice until it is reduced to 1/3 c. While that’s boiling, chop the almonds, and toast them in a skillet on medium heat until they’re slightly browned and smell amazing. Sprinkle the nuts along the bottom of the parchment-lined pan.

Once you have 1/3 c of orange juice, remove it from heat and stir in the sugars, butter, and cream. Return to high heat and bring to a boil, stirring constantly. Use a candy thermometer, and let the mixture rise to 248 degrees. This will take about 17 minutes, according to Matt’s calculations. (He also suggests to put a half-teaspoon of the mixture into a glass of icy water, and if it turns to a firm, chewy ball, then it’s ready.) Remove from heat and stir in vanilla. Pour the caramel over the almonds. Let it sit at room temperature until it’s firm. Sprinkle saltĀ  over the pan before cutting. (I used Kosher salt instead of sea salt flakes, and it was just as good.)

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When wrapping, wax paper works best here. They make for great gifts!

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