pumpkin caramels

Earlier in the year I attended the PNW Blogger meet up in Seattle and I won the book Sweet Confections in the raffle.  It's full of delicious looking candy recipes and I've been meaning to try them out, but candies always look a bit more intimidating than normal cooking, so I put it off.  Tis the season for all of the pumpkin things, though, so I decided to start with making the Pumpkin Caramel recipe from the book!  If you guys follow my twitter, you probably know the backstory to these caramels.  Truth be told, it took me five attempts to get these right and I nearly lost my mind!  The first time I did it, they never set up, the next couple times I messed up the part where I mixed the cream with the caramelized sugar, and then I also overheated a batch.  It was certainly a learning experience, but I think I've got it down now.  There's a lot more finesse and preciseness involved in making candy, but I was determined to figure it out.  

The next treat on my list, or rather Dan's, is fudge.  I'm not a huge fudge fan, but Dan has been begging me to make some, so I'm thinking I might try bourbon fudge or peppermint fudge.  Peppermint is very holiday friendly, but I do love mixing booze and treats.


(recipe via Sweet Confections)
Makes appx 64 pieces

8x8 inch pan
Plastic Wrap
1 Quart saucepan
2 Quart saucepan
Heatproof silicone spatula
Candy thermometer
Cutting board
Parchment Paper
Chef's Knife or Pizza wheel
Cellophane or Waxed Paper

1 tbsp corn syrup
1 tbsp golden syrup or molasses
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp ginger
1/8 tsp allspice
1 tbsp unsalted butter
1 1/4 tsp kosher salt
1 1/2 cups cream
2 cups sugar
1/2 cup pureed pumpkin

1. Line an 8x8 inch pan with plastic wrap.

2. Mix together the corn syrup, golden syrup/molasses, cinnamon, ginger, and allspice into a paste in a 1 qt saucepan.  Add the butter, kosher salt, pumpkin, and cream, and cook over medium heat.  Once it comes to a boil, decrease the heat to low to keep it warm.

3.  Meanwhile, caramelize the sugar in a 2 qt saucepan.  To caramelize sugar, heat the empty saucepan over medium high heat for a few minutes.  Pour about an 1/8 inch layer of sugar into the pan.  Wherever you first notice a darkened spot of brown caramelized sugar, begin stirring in that spot with a silicone spatula.  Gradually swirl the surrounding sugar into the liquified caramel.  Add another 1/8 inch layer and gradually stir it into the caramelized sugar.   Keep adding layers gradually, making sure not to add too much at once.  The sugar should stay mostly liquid.  Stir the sugar so it cooks evenly until all the sugar crystals are dissolved.

4.  When the sugar has fully caramelized, turn off the heat.  Slowly and gently add the cream mixture into the caramelized sugar, while stirring.  The mixture will bubble up pretty high, be careful of spatter.  Return heat to medium high and stir constantly and gently until it reaches 248º F.  If you don't heat it high enough the caramel won't thicken, too high and it will thicken too hard.  

5.  Pour into the prepared pan, and cover with plastic wrap.  Let set at least 2 hours, preferably overnight, at room temperature.

6. Unwrap the caramel and place it on a cutting board covered with parchment paper, to keep it from sticking.  Use a chef's knife or pizza wheel to cut the slab into 1/2 inch wide strips, and then cut each strip into 2 inch long pieces.  Wrap each piece individually in cellophane or wax paper.