My freezer is full. Like seriously full. Like open it, stuff something in, slam the door, and run, hoping all the goodies inside don’t come tumbling out full. It’s a real problem. But a good problem to have. The freezer is full of my baked treats I just can’t bear to part with, which accounts for most of the recipes you see here. There are also bags of peaches, cherries, blueberries, and blackberries that I froze to help me survive winter. And of course there’s fresh pumpkin puree bagged in half cup portions.
Opening the door reveals a mass of zipper bags, stuffed full with shiny aluminum foil covering sugary sweet goodness. Each of the bags has an attached post-it note, reinforced with tape, saying what’s inside, but there’s something about the bags and the cold temperatures that makes the tape not want to stick. It’s always an adventure finding bags with no labels and others with two. “What’s inside?” I wonder as I quickly unwrap something waiting to discover if it sounds good at the moment or if it’s something I’ve forgotten about altogether.
As much as I try to go through it and keep is super organized, it’s hard. All the fruit and pumpkin is on one shelf, all the muffins on another. As things are added it becomes a jumbled mess, often leaving me searching through each and every shelf to find what I’m looking for, because you know those pesky Anzac Cookies are lurking on the last shelf I think they are.
I don’t mind looking through the shelves, as I often discover something I’ve long forgotten about. But it’s seriously cold in the freezer. More than a minute or two of looking leaves me shivering and standing by the running oven, baking or cooking away, or putting my hands under warm running water to restore feeling.
What is best about the freezer is that sometimes things taste better after having spent a while in there. Fresh baked goodness quickly restored after awhile at room temperature or in the oven. Even treats I didn’t love become new favorites. Perhaps it’s also the time delay. There’s nothing like tasting Cherry Almond Cake months after having made it, cherries having vanished from the store shelves, and falling in love with it all over again.
But that freezer really is full, so the need and desire arises for making something that doesn’t need to be frozen, doesn’t freeze well, or I just don’t see a need to keep. Puppy Chow is so quick and easy to make and lasts awhile at room temperature that I’d rather just make it again. These Salted Caramels will last awhile at room temperature and by the time they are gone, I’ll be done with them until I’m ready to make a new batch. Plus I don’t think they’d freeze very well.
These Salted Caramels are the best caramels I’ve ever tasted. Some caramels are too sweet or a little grainy or just don’t taste like anything. But these are pure heaven. Super smooth and creamy, they have that deep caramel flavor with a hint of sweetness, no bitterness or cloying sweetness ever. Vanilla flavor is also present, along with welcome flecks of vanilla bean. The flavor and texture is perfect for eating, in fact, you probably won’t want to stop. But they are on the super gooey side for storage, having to be pried from their wax paper wrapping. But perhaps this is what makes them so good, they don’t have any of that hard caramel, stuck in your teeth thing going on, just melt in your mouth caramel goodness. Plus, you must burn a couple calories working to get them off the paper, right?
- 1 ¾ cups heavy cream
- ¾ cup light corn syrup
- ½ teaspoon kosher salt
- 1 vanilla bean, seeded, pod and seeds reserved
- 1 ¾ cups granulated sugar
- ¾ cup water
- Maldon Sea Salt, for sprinkling
- Line an 8 inch square pan with parchment paper.
- In a small saucepan, combine cream, corn syrup, salt, vanilla bean seeds, and vanilla bean pod. Cook over medium heat until the mixture begins to simmer. Once this happens, remove from heat and allow to steep while you prepare the caramel. Remove the vanilla bean pod after a couple minutes, well before the caramel is ready for the cream.
- In a 4 quart saucepan, combine sugar and water. Cook over medium-high heat without stirring until the mixture is deep golden brown. Do not walk away during this process. It may take awhile, but can go from clear to burnt in no time. Remove the pan from the heat and pour in the cream mixture. Return the pan to medium heat, and stir to dissolve the caramel. Once dissolved, insert a candy thermometer and cook, without stirring, until it reaches 246 degrees F on a candy thermometer. Immediately pour caramel into prepared pan and smooth top. Let cool completely – this take a long time. Remove from pan and cut into pieces. Sprinkle with sea salt and wrap in wax paper. Store at room temperature for up to 1 week or in the refrigerator for up to 2 weeks.