Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Salted Pumpkin Caramels, Take 2

The big plan this time is to allow the caramel to cook a couple degrees hotter with the intention of getting a final caramel that is a little bit firmer than the last ones.

Doing some reading about caramels, I found that you don't need to add water at the beginning. The purpose of that water is just to get the sugar to dissolve easier. Thinking skipping the water would make things go along quicker, I found that it only dragged things out. Use the water.

Salted Pumpkin Caramels
adapted from Take 1

1/2 c raw, unsalted pepitas
1 1/2 c heavy cream
2/3 c pumpkin puree
1 tsp pumpkin pie spice
2 c white sugar
1/2 c light corn syrup
1/3 c maple syrup
4 tbsp unsalted butter, cut in chunks
1 tsp lemon juice
3/4 tsp sea salt

Line the bottom and the sides of a 9-inch square baking pan with parchment paper.

Butter the parchment on all the sides.

Toast the pepitas in a large skillet over medium heat, tossing occasionally, until they begin to pop. Cool.

This was 8 minutes in and they didn't pop!

Evenly spread out the pumpkin seeds on the bottom of the pan.

In a small saucepan, combine heavy cream, pumpkin puree, and spice. Warm the cream mixture over low to medium heat until heated through but not boiling. Set aside.

Place the sugar and syrups in a larger heavy bottomed pan, with sides at least 4 inches high, and heat over medium heat.

After 4 minutes the syrups were warm and the sugar began melting; another 3 minutes later tiny bubbles were observed on the syrup while the sugar was not yet completely melted. Another 5 minutes later, it looked the same and I moved on.

Stir over medium heat until the sugar is melted.

This took about 4 minutes.

Allow the mixture to boil until it reaches 244°F, stirring occasionally.

220°F, 230°F, and 240°F.


Very carefully, slowly add the cream mixture.

Uh, what? No ferocious boil? The temp dropped to 202°F instantly allowing me to casually stir the pumpkin mixture in and the temperature dropped a couple degrees more.

Stir the mixture occasionally until it reaches 230°F and then continuously until it reaches 240°F 243°F.

212°F, 220°F, 230°F, and 240°F.

Remove the saucepan from heat and stir in the butter and lemon juice. Stir vigorously so that the butter is fully incorporated.

Pour the mixture into the prepared pan.

Let cool 30 minutes, then sprinkle the salt on top.

Let the caramels fully set (at least 2 hours) before cutting them into 1-inch squares with a knife.

After sitting overnight, I cut the caramels without having to warm the knife at all! The cuts were perfectly clean, each individual caramel was a firm little square. So good, right? Well, it would've been if the caramels didn't come out a little gritty. There are three variables I included:
  • water (or lack of)
  • less stirring
  • higher heat.
I'm pretty sure the higher heat didn't cause the grittiness. It's probably a combination of less stirring and no water. Since the lack of water just prolonged the sugar dissolving and melting, I'll not do that again.

Oh yeah, and those pepitas? Overdone.

TOTAL: $4.52 or about $0.07 for each of 64 caramels.