Imagine buttery sweet combined with salt and smoke. These are the flavor components that form quite possibly the most divine confection to come from my kitchen to date. Boutique caramels, flavored salts and smoked anything are all making headlines as current food trends. Here I combine them together into one sweet indulgence. The smoke flavor is easily achieved using Arbor Teas Organic Lapsang Souchong Black Tea. If you need a holiday gift to delight your favorite foodie, this recipe might just be the perfect treat! Be sure to make enough to treat yourself as well, though. Passing a small test batch around Arbor Teas friends and staff garnered rave reviews but also generated a bit of competition as to who would keep the extras. If you know you have a propensity for hoarding, I suggest doubling the recipe. Happy holidays! Hope you enjoy this Cooking with Tea Recipe from the Kitchen of Olivia!
Smoky Lapsang Souchong Caramels
Adapted from Pure Dessert by Alice Medrich
- makes 40 (1-inch) caramels –
2 TBS organic lapsang souchong black tea
1 cup heavy cream
½ cup Lyle’s golden syrup
1 cup sugar
rounded ¼ tsp fine sea salt
2 tsp pure vanilla extract
1½ TBS unsalted butter, cut into chunks, softened
Smoked sea salt to garnish
Line the bottom and sides of an 8-inch loaf pan with parchment and butter the parchment.
Combine the cream and organic lapsang souchong black tea in a small saucepan and heat until tiny bubbles form around the edges of the pan. Turn off the heat and cover the pan to keep the cream hot. Allow the tea to steep while proceeding to the next step.
Combine the golden syrup, sugar, and salt in a heavy 3-quart saucepan and cook over medium heat, stirring with a silicone spatula, until the mixture begins to simmer around the edges. Wash the sugar and syrup from the sides of the pan with a pastry brush dipped in water. Cover and cook for about 3 minutes. (Meanwhile, rinse the spatula or spoon before using it again later.) Uncover the pan and wash down the sides once more. Attach the candy thermometer to the pan, without letting it touch the bottom of the pan, and cook, uncovered (without stirring) until the mixture reaches 305°F.
When the sugar mixture reaches 305°F, turn off the heat and stir in the butter chunks. Place a fine mesh sieve over the pan (to catch tea leaves) and gradually pour in the hot cream, stirring slowly; it will bubble up and steam dramatically, so be careful. Turn the burner back on and adjust it so that the mixture boils energetically but not violently. Stir until any thickened syrup at the bottom of the pan is dissolved and the mixture is smooth. Continue to cook, stirring occasionally, to about 245°F. Then cook, stirring constantly, to 260°F for soft, chewy caramels or 265°F, for firmer, chewy caramels.
Remove the pan from the heat and stir in the vanilla extract. Pour the caramel into the lined pan. Let set for 4 to 5 hours, or overnight until firm. After an hour or so of cooling, sprinkle with garnish of sea salt and press crystals lightly into the caramel.
When completely set, lift the pan liner from the pan and peel off the parchment. Cut the caramels with a sharp knife. Wrap each caramel individually in wax paper.